A council investigation into surgery at Hartlepool’s hospital and the quality of local maternity services is about to get underway.
The study will call experts as councillors look into whether the University Hospital of Hartlepool could be used to carry out more planned surgery.
Maternity services provided at the midwife-led Holdforth Road site, and at the University Hospital of North Tees, will also come under the microscope of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee.
The Mail reported in the summer how just nine babies were born at the University Hospital of Hartlepool last year, compared to more than 1,600 ten years earlier.
Most mums-to-be now give birth at the Univesity Hospital of North Tees in Stockton where there is specialist support in case of complications.
Councilllor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the Audit and Governance Committee, said: “We all know that maternity services in Hartlepool have been utterly decimated and really we are talking about a non entity now in Hartlepool but I do believe we do need to look at this.
“This is something because that is going to be replicated and is something that is part of the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and other recommendations that are going to come in from the Better Health Programme.
“There is rumours that North Tees’ maternity is at risk and could be downgraded to the same as Hartlepool.
“We need to look very clinically and critically at maternity services in Hartlepool when we went from in excess of a thousand births down to single figures last year.”
The committee agreed a timetable for the investigation beginning next month looking at local need and demand for maternity and elective surgery services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
In November, the committee will look to get figures for people using both services for the past three years and the reasons behind any changes.
In January, the commitee is set to call expert evidence to understand how high quality maternity and elective surgery services can be achieved and maintained.
In February, councillors will examine how both services will be provided in the future and what potential changes Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships may bring.
The final draft report is due to be received in March next year.