Hartlepool MP's call for clarity over neonatal unit changes
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has called for more clarity from health bosses after it was revealed proposed changes to neonatal services could come into effect from September.
The neonatal unit at the University Hospital of North Tees is set to be affected, with intensive neonatal care expected to be transferred to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.
The North Tees unit is set to be downgraded to a “special baby care” unit, should the proposals come into effect.
Mr Hill is seeking more clarity on the changes.
He said: “My main concern is maintaining a maternity unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool and maintaining the existing services at North Tees for Hartlepool mothers and infants.
“I understand there there have been proposals that will effect services at North Tees and have made my position clear on that matter.
“There should be no changes to services for Hartlepool mothers and their children at North Tees.
“It is also vitally important that the maternity unit is maintained at Hartlepool and the right for children to be born in the town remains.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “Following a detailed independent review involving specialists and clinicians it has been recommended that changes are made to neonatal services to ensure the best outcomes for parents and their babies.
“We are continuing to communicate and engage with patients and stakeholders on the proposed plans to ensure the services are sustainable and provide excellent care for the future.
“Under the proposed plans, from September 2018, babies born in the Teesside area between 27 to 30 weeks requiring Intensive Treatment or High Dependency Care will be cared for at the James Cook University Hospital.
“The University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, will maintain a Special Care Unit for babies who require additional care delivered by the neonatal service, but do not require intensive or high dependency care.
“A small number of babies that would have been delivered in North Tees under the current configuration will be cared for at the James Cook Hospital.
“It is anticipated that this may affect 10 babies per year from the Hartlepool and Stockton area.
“A further 10 cases from across the region that would have previously been cared for at North Tees under the current configuration will be cared for at the James Cook Hospital depending on availability of cots within the other Neonatal Intensive Care Units within the network.
“In total, the changes may affect up to 20 babies per year receiving intensive care.”
The union Unison, which represents many health workers in the area, says it has started consultation with the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust to ensure “that the staff and services are protected” in any changes which are made.
The statement from the union added: “This change is a decision from the commissioners – we believe this is a result of the Government’s underfunding of the NHS, which leads to the diminution of local services.
“This is a key example of it.
“Hartlepool deserves the best services in its community and this is not served by transferring dedicated and highly skilled staff to James Cook Hospital.”