Councillor calls for fresh A&E action

Keith Fisher
Keith Fisher

A CAMPAIGNING councillor has once again called for more action over the controversial closure of the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Independent councillor Keith Fisher said he was disappointed nothing had happened since a vote of no confidence in the board of directors at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, last September.

That followed the closure of the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, last August.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, Coun Fisher said: “I have issued this challenge several times in the past.

“The people will tell you that they are not only unhappy but frightened.”

Coun Fisher, who is chairman of the Save Our Hospital group, added: “We need to change up a gear and be more effective.

“We are not getting anywhere.”

Trust bosses took the decision after an independent review into the A&E department’s facilities ruled it as being “unfit for purpose”.

Coun Fisher had earlier asked: “What are the current actions of the health scrutiny committee to address the wishes of the general public to have A&E services returned to Hartlepool’s Holdforth Road hospital site?”

Labour councillor Ged Hall, vice-chair of the committee, said the forum was keen to engage with health bosses and ensure residents had their voices heard.

Coun Fisher, who sits on the committee after recently being elected, said: “What are we actually doing?

“It is now almost a year on and what have we achieved?”

Coun Hall said the way forward was “positive engagement,” adding: “As a council we wish to retain the viability of the hospital for as long as possible.”

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash said he feared the government was attempting to weaken the powers of health scrutiny committees.

Putting Hartlepool First leader Geoff Lilley said: “We need to be more proactive and shout louder.

“People in this town are seriously missing hospital-based A&E services.

“We have a moral obligation and should be living up to that.”

Coun Fisher referred to a previous letter from former chair of the council, Labour councillor Carl Richardson, to the Health Secretary calling for A&E to be reinstated.

Coun Richardson, who said the trust should be more accountable, said: “The point is we don’t have any control over the foundation trust. That is the problem.”