Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has challenged a hospital boss to answer a series of key questions over the closure of a fertility service at the town’s hospital.
Mr Wright is seeking answers to a number of questions around the axing of licensed fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool - including details of attempts made to recruit embryologists.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust insists it has tried desperately to find an embryologist to allow the service to continue and advertised the post three times.
The Royal College of Nursing is also questioning the efforts made by hospital bosses to advertise for the vacant embryologist post.
The MP has called on the trust to put the decision on hold until the questions are answered.
In a letter to Alan Foster, chief executive of the hospital trust, Mr Wright said: “You will appreciate I am deeply disappointed at this news.
“This is a further example of services being closed or moved away from Hartlepool which undermines still further the future viability of the town’s hospital.
“I have asked Parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Health asking for further information on whether there is a national shortage of embryologists.”
Mr Wright adds: “I have received information from Unison that the trust has not re-advertised for the post since the previous embryologist left last year.
“In a similar way, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has today stated that the trust advertised the current vacancy once, in September 2015, and then only for a week on the NHS jobs website.”
Mr Wright wants answers from Mr Foster to a number of questions including:
* What is the staffing level mix, in terms of embryologists, nursing staff and others, required in order for the Trust to continue with the present service at the Assisted Reproduction Unit at Hartlepool?
* What is the current staffing gap in terms of allowing the Assisted Reproduction Unit to continue?
* What was the recruitment process in respect of the post of embryologist?
* Did the recruitment process for the present vacancy differ in any way from the recruitment process that took place in May 2015?
The trust says it advertised for the embryologist post three times in six months and added all vacancies are advertised online meaning anyone in the world can see it and apply.
A hospital trust spokesman said: “We have made every effort for some time to recruit. All of our vacancies are advertised on NHS Jobs, which is a dedicated online recruitment service for the NHS.
“All jobs advertised can be accessed from overseas. Candidates are shortlisted only when they meet the criteria.”
The trust added it has not yet received Mr Wright’s letter.