Council leader fears children will have to travel further after Hartlepool nursery closure

The Rainbow Nursery, University Hospital of Hartlepool
The Rainbow Nursery, University Hospital of Hartlepool

A CIVIC chief says he is disappointed at the loss of another service from the town’s hospital after it was announced its children’s nursery is to close.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, says he is concerned about where the children affected will go.

Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Christopher Akers-Belcher.

He fears families may have to travel further from their home to find alternative places.

Hospital bosses at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust confirmed they are to close the Rainbow Day Nursery at the Holdforth Road site and its counterpart at North Tees.

Managers say a review has shown both nurseries, used by hospital staff at a lower cost and also the surrounding community, have become uneconomic.

Coun Akers-Belcher said there was little the council could do as the hospital trust is a private company.

But he said: “I am disappointed at this news. I know the nursery is nothing to do with the clinical side of the hospital but people will look at it as another loss of a provision.

“My major concern is are the children who are going to be affected going to be accommodated elsewhere?

“The child has to come first. How are the trust going to manage the process to make sure children still have a nursery place in the town near to where they live?

“And from a staff point of view, I would like to know what is being done from the trust’s perspective to work with other nursery providers in ensuring staff posts are safeguarded elsewhere.”

Around 20 devastated staff are set to be affected from the Hartlepool nursery and about another 40 at Stockton.

The trust says they could be redeployed elsewhere, but the nursery staff are concerned they will not be trained for whatever roles are found for them.

Unions have also urged the hospital trust to think again.

The announcement has also been another financial blow to low-paid nursing staff who are able to access the hospital-based childcare at a lower rate.

Just last month hospital chiefs brought in new car parking charges which sees some staff paying five per cent more to park at work, much higher than their last pay offer of just one per cent.

The two sites combined cater for up to 178 children who will now have to find alternative providers.

The hospital trust says it a 30-day consultation is now underway with staff affected and is contacting parents so they can start to make other arrangements.