Calls to postpone services transfer

Tthe University Hospital of Hartlepool
Tthe University Hospital of Hartlepool

A TOP councillor hopes that health bosses will postpone plans to move a string of out-patient services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Health chiefs are planning to move several services from the hospital to One Life Hartlepool in a phased programme starting next month.

But Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Health Scrutiny Forum, said he is concerned about the future viability of the hospital if more services are removed and the pressure it will put on One Life Hartlepool.

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The proposed relocation of rheumatology, diabetes, and respiratory outpatient clinics could start in July, followed by the proposed transfer of pain services, acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation treatment between August and the end of October.

The final phase, starting in September, will see the relocation of the ear, nose and throat clinic, core physiotherapy and anti-blood clotting treatment.

Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, chairman of NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group, said the proposals are part of the Momentum: Pathways to Healthcare programme and there will be no change and/or reduction in services offered to the population of the town.

But Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I will be inviting the representatives of NHS Hartlepool and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust to explain – at the meeting of the council’s Health Scrutiny Forum on Thursday, June 28 – the rationale behind this announcement and I will be strongly urging them not to implement any changes until the Health Scrutiny Forum has had the opportunity to fully examine the implications of the proposals.

“I am concerned about the additional pressures which the proposed relocation of services will place on One Life Hartlepool, including traffic congestion and car parking.

“I am also very worried about the affect which this removal of a further raft of services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool would have on the hospital’s long-term sustainability.

“I believe very strongly that, if these proposals do go ahead, other services should be brought in to take their place at the hospital to maintain its viability.”

The Health Scrutiny Forum meeting on Thursday, June 28, will take place at 10am in the Council Chamber in the Civic Centre, in Victoria Road.