COUNCIL chiefs will continue to put pressure on a health trust to restore hospital services to Hartlepool with the promise of a letter to Whitehall “by the end of the week”.
After a heated meeting at the Town Hall Theatre on Wednesday, councillors voted unanimously to record a vote of no confidence in the board of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust.
The move came after Trust chief executive Alan Foster said there was “no chance” of services being moved back to Hartlepool’s hospital, despite plans for a new £300m facility at Wynyard being shelved until after the General Election.
Senior officers from Hartlepool Borough Council were in talks with local authority leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher yesterday with a view to drafting a letter up to be sent to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health.
And Coun Akers-Belcher, who praised the councillors for showing “a united front”, has pledged to turn up the heat on the health trust.
It comes more than 9,000 have signed the Mail’s Bring Them Back petition to return hospital services to Hartlepool.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “We saw the strength of feeling at the meeting on Monday.
“We have known about it for a long time, and the trust know all about the emotions.
“The next step is to give the Health Secretary the opportunity to see that strength of feeling.
“We are drafting up a letter now, I have been speaking to officers within the council and we will take guidance from Iain Wright to state our case as strong as we possibly can.
“We have heard what the trust said, and this is the only power we have as a council to refer it to the government.
“Ideally we would like the Secretary of State to come to Hartlepool and we will be inviting him to do that, but if it needs to be a delegation from Hartlepool going to London then we will do that.
“We will put forward evidence about how the services have bene migrated. We will explain how we were promised a world class hospital which hasn’t happened.
“The trust spoke of the fact they have to cover for an area of 400,000 people. Well we make up a quarter of that, and we’re not getting our fair share.”
Referring to the meeting, Coun Akers-Belcher added:
“But people got their points across really well, it was an emotive subject and they had their say. I was delighted with the united front from the councillors as well.
“This isn’t about party politics, this issue has brought the whole council together and that was reflected in the unanimous vote regardless of parties or wards.”