Hartlepool health chiefs get grilling over hospital, death rates and maternity services

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

Health chiefs faced a grilling from councillors and the public yesterday.

Concerns about mortality rates, maternity services and staff morale were put to the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

I’m alarmed that there is a push to get people to go to North Tees and that Hartlepool will become unsustainable

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, vice chair of Hartlepool Audit and Governance Committee

The questions came as the trust presented a report on its performance and future aims to Hartlepool council’s Audit and Governance Committee.

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher raised questions over the sustainability of Hartlepool’s birthing unit, claiming mums-to-be from the town are being encouraged to deliver at the consultant-led North Tees site in Stockton.

“I’m alarmed that there is a push to get people to go to North Tees and that Hartlepool will become unsustainable,” he said.

Coun Jim Ainslie said the issue was also raised during the most recent Hartlepool Health and Social Care Plan event.

Julie Lane, acting director of nursing, said: “We do have to say what the potential implications are, if anything happened they would have to go to North Tees.

“I will speak to the midwives as the message some of them are giving isn’t correct.”

Coun Alan Clark asked if a staff satisfaction rate of 54% was linked to services being transferred to North Tees.

Ms Lane said there were issues with the NHS as a whole but added: “I’m sure it has contributed in some way.”

Councillors also asked the trust to show how the trust compares to others for its mortality rates, which are higher than expected.

Meeting chairman Coun Ray Martin-Wells said: “Mortality remains high despite assurances we got last year you were going to reduce it.”

The trust said more people were not dying but there had been a change in the way the figures are recorded and it is seeing more patients with complex conditions.

Keith Wheldon, trust safety and quality performance manager said the mortality rates were falling steadily.