Councillor accuses hospital trust of lying over reason for Hartlepool fertility service closure plan

University Hospital of Hartlepool.
University Hospital of Hartlepool.

A councillor has accused hospital bosses of lying about the reasons they announced plans to axe licensed fertility services in Hartlepool.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, who heads Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance scrutiny group, said hospital leaders had not been honest in saying issues with recruiting staff was to blame.

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

Coun Ray Martin-Wells

Coun Martin-Wells said a report of the Clinical Senate, produced as part of a consultation into Hartlepool’s Assisted Reproduction Unit (ARU) confirms North Tees and Hartlepool hospital trust no longer wishes to run the service.

At an Audit & Governance Committee meeting yesterday he said High Court action by the council which brought a stay of execution could have been avoided adding the trust had shown “complete and utter contempt” for the council and residents.

Coun Martin-Wells added: “The only reason we took the trust to task in the way that we did is we suspected that they were lying at the beginning and now we’ve proved that we were correct.

“This is an absolute about turn from the position thay they came to us in in January via a press release to say they were having difficulty in employiomng embryologists.

“We suspected that they were lying at the beginning and now we’ve proved that we were correct

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells

“We now have proof that that isn’t true, they did have embryologists, I’ve spoken to the embryologists that were working there and offered their services.”

Vice chair Coun Rob Cook said: “I just think its an absolute disgrace the way they have handled the whole situation.”

Coun Martin-Wells revealed the council looked into it taking over the running of the fertility unit, which has a success rate around twice the England average, but is unable to under current law.

Coun John Tennant called for greater investigation into why the trust wanted to close the unit.

The fertility unit consultation led by the Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group, closes today.

A final decision on the unit will be made by the CCG’s governing body.

The CCG said: “We acknowledge the concerns raised by the local council in relation to the findings of the independent clinical review team.

“This information will be considered alongside all other responses received during the consultation period to enable the CCG’s Governing body to make an informed decision.”