HEALTH chiefs will face calls from senior councillors for a public meeting to be held on the future of hospital services.
Hartlepool councillors are set to meet bosses from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to discuss the future of services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
It comes after the Mail launched the ‘Bring Them Back’ campaign, which calls for services that have been taken away from the Holdforth Road facility to be reinstated, and has gathered more than 4,000 signatures since Monday.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS trust announced last month that plans for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard were being shelved until after the general election after a succession of delays in the long-running saga.
With many key services having already been moved out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool into the university Hospital of North Tees, the Wynyard announcement has raised concerns that everything will eventually be centralised in Stockton.
Civic leaders at Hartlepool Borough Council will voice their concerns to the hospital trust at a meeting which will take place on Tuesday, November 11, at the Civic Centre.
Trust chief executive Alan Foster and chairman Paul Garvin have agreed to attend the meeting, which will see the council request a public meeting to be held at a later date for residents to air their concerns.
Mr Foster has told the Mail that services which have already been taken away from Hartlepool will not be returned, though he is likely to face questions concerning reasons behind that at next week’s meeting.
The council will be represented by Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of the council, Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee and its vice-chairman Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher.
Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “The council is fully aware of the strength of feeling throughout the whole town and the frustration in relation to hospital services.
“I’m also aware that many councillors have requested immediate action, including a public meeting, so that townspeople can unite to ensure that Hartlepool has the best possible hospital services in the 21st Century.
“I am encouraged that the hospital trust has agreed to our request for an urgent meeting and we will be pressing upon them that it is the council’s desire to hold a public meeting at the earliest possible opportunity to give everyone the opportunity to get involved and help influence the future of hospital services in Hartlepool.”
Signatures have continued to pour in for the Mail’s ‘Bring Them Back’ campaign, but even though Mr Foster is aware of the campaign, he remains adamant that services cannot be returned.
He has vowed to try not to take any more services from the town.
He said: “We want to hear people’s views before we make any further changes.
“As I have said before, doctors have been telling us we need to centralise services on to one site to enable them to meet quality and safety standards.
“We cannot bring services back to Hartlepool which have already been moved, though we will try to keep as many services as possible in Hartlepool.
“We have to provide a good level of care between the two sites.”
• To add your support to the campaign, sign the online petition or call into the Mail reception in Wesley Square, Hartlepool, to add your name to the list.
The petition will eventually be passed onto the hospital trust, NHS England and the Department of Health in a bid to bring about changes.