THE Mail has handed over a 12,000-name petition calling for a return of hospital services to Hartlepool to town MP Iain Wright ahead of a meeting with the Government Health Minister.
We presented the weighty document signed by more than 12,000 readers over the last few months as part of our Bring Them Back Campaign.
Mr Wright will use the petition to hammer home the views of residents when he and town councillors meet with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in London next Tuesday.
Mr Wright said: “This petition provides a very vivid illustration of the strong feeling that will help the cause going to Jeremy Hunt and saying the people of Hartlepool want to see services returned back to the town.
“I hope that he listens and understands the depth of emotion when it comes to the hospital and hope he can act with other agencies to make sure the number one priority is to return hospital services to the town.”
The Mail launched the Bring Them Back campaign after plans for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard were put on hold by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after being unable to secure £100m of Government funding.
Hundreds of people have attended recent events organised by members of the Save Our Hospital Campaign and Town of Hartlepool Challenge Facebook group.
They included a march from Seaton Carew to Hartlepool hospital and a large demonstration in Hartlepool town centre last Saturday, Valentine’s Day.
They next plan to take the fight direct to Parliament.
Hospital managers have said the changes, including closing Hartlepool’s A&E department in 2011 and transferring critical care to North Tees has been based on advice from clinicians.
Tuesday’s meeting with Mr Hunt is also set to include Hartlepool mayor Stephen Akers-Belcher, council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher, Putting Hartlepool First party leader Keith Dawkins, and Conservative councillor Brenda Lloynes.
Mr Wright added: “I think the meeting is significant. It is about making sure the person who is in ultimate charge of the NHS hears the concerns and that the elected representatives from Hartlepool say ‘how can we work with you?’.
“In the absence of Wynyard going ahead and the complete inappropriate nature of North Tees being the only hospital, that’s not good enough.”
Mr Wright added the NHS’s Five Year Forward View suggested greater use of district general hospitals like the Hartlepool site in Holdforth Road.