Hartlepool’s MP has hit out at the news that fertility services will be cut in the town.
The Mail revealed yesterday that North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will no longer provide licensed fertility treatment, including IVF.
Bosses say the decision has been made “reluctantly” after a comprehensive review of the service provided at the University Hospital of Hartlepool’s assisted reproduction unit.
They say they have not not been able to recruit enough embryologists to continue to provide the current service safely.
The decision means that licensed fertility treatments will no longer be provided, however the trust says it will still be providing some general infertility treatments.
Town MP Iain Wright spoke of his anger at the news.
“This is yet another disappointing announcement from the trust, with yet again a reduction in health services affecting the people of Hartlepool,” said Mr Wright.
“The salami-slicing of hospital services in Hartlepool continues, with people wishing to have fertility treatments not able to secure them locally and having to travel further away.
“There is an acute staffing crisis in the NHS.
“The trust has made clear that the reason for this closure is the inability to secure sufficient trained staff.
“Services will not return to Hartlepool and a full range of services, including A&E, provided in the University Hospital of Hartlepool unless the Government addresses the problems of staff recruitment and retention in the NHS.
“In the week when junior doctors go on strike for the first time in 40 years, the Government has to ensure that there is enough staff to allow patients to have full NHS services locally.”
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit & Governance Committee, has said that he will be recommending that the committee refer the matter to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The health trust has added that it will be working with other organisations to look at the way services are provided in the future, to ensure that patients continue to receive appropriate treatment.
A staff consultation has also begun with “every effort” being made to redeploy the staff within the trust.
Ukip North East MEP Jonathan Arnott also criticised the trust’s decision, saying: “I find it deplorable that Hartlepool’s university hospital has had to take another department cut.
“Hartlepool has no A&E, it charges patients for car parking and provides less than satisfactory services for Hartlepool residents.
“I seriously question the efforts of Hartlepool council and the North Tees NHS Foundation in finding a solution to the ever dwindling value for money at the hospital.”
‘I think it’s shocking that all our services are being taken away’
People the Mail spoke to about the loss of fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool were universally against the move.
Student Alex Rochester, 17, of King Oswy, Hartlepool, said: “I would like to see more money put into the hospital. It is close to a lot of people and it’s sort of getting scrapped.
“If the fertility service is helping people, it is a good thing to have.”
Bethan Maiden, 18, who is studying health and social care at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said: “I don’t think it’s fair because everyone has the same right to get IVF. Why should people have to travel distances to get the same treatment as everybody else, especially the area we live in where a lot of people can’t afford to travel to a city.”
Eighteen-year-old Jessica Carling, who is also studying health and social care and lives in Brierton, said: “I am IVF and so are my brothers. I know my mam was desperate for kids, if she had to go out of town all the time I don’t think we would be here.
“I think it is the same for anyone else who really wants to have children. If they have to go out of town, it is really inconvenient.”
Unemployed Craig Carter, 29, a dad of three, of Murray Street, said: “I think it’s disgraceful they are taking it away. It should be something that is accessible in town and something where people are not going to be out of pocket for going there.”
April Twidale, 28, a care assistant, who also lives in Murray Street, added: “I just think it’s shocking that all our services are being taken away.”