Council bosses bid to bring back maternity services to town hospital

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Council bosses are preparing to take the next step in a bid to bring more maternity services back to Hartlepool.

Members of the Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee have spent the last year bidding for improved maternity services at the University of Hartlepool Hospital.

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

The work has included talks with hospital and council bosses, a visit to the midwife-led Blackburn Birthing centre and a public consultation.

Concerns for the viability of the midwife-led unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool were raised after there were just three deliveries at the unit in 2017 and five home births in the town.

Councillors say their work has come to a ‘positive outcome’ and plans for the future of the birthing centre will be outlined with a report at a council meeting next week.

Committee chair, Coun Brenda Loynes, and vice chair, Coun John Tennant, have been behind the work and say they are pleased at the outcomes.

Coun Loynes said: “I along with John and key officers from Hartlepool Borough Council and the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust have worked to bring about a return of full maternity services for the mothers and their families here in Hartlepool, at Hartlepool Hospital.

“After our visit to Blackburn Maternity Services at the Blackburn Birthing Centre it was clear that we could achieve greater things here in Hartlepool.”

The services issue at Hartlepool Birthing Centre were put out for public consultation.

There were over 450 responses and councillors said it was clear to them the responsibility is at their door to make the required impact.

Health bosses last year revealed plans to create a ‘central hub’ of maternity services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool to boost births in the town, along with hiring more midwives.

Existing services are currently delivered by a team of midwives, but consultant and doctor support are not offered at the hospital.

This comes after more services including surgeries were already brought back in situ at the town hospital.

Coun Loynes said: “I have had productive, sometimes heated debates with the staff and local politicians from all points of this situation.

“The wider hospital groups who continue to champion the cause and who are fantastic in helping our progress, have all helped us to shape this report that will hopefully be well received.”

The report will be discussed at the Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance Committee meeting on Thursday, February 14.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service