Campaigners take Hartlepool hospital fight to Parliament

Preview of a protest by Save Our Hospital Campaign Group'Front campaign organiser's Michelle McIntyre and Keith Fisher
Preview of a protest by Save Our Hospital Campaign Group'Front campaign organiser's Michelle McIntyre and Keith Fisher

CAMPAIGNERS battling for services to be returned to Hartlepool’s hospital are getting set to take their fight to Parliament.

Town campaigners are planning a protest at the Houses of Parliament to highlight their battle to get services returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

It comes after hundreds of protesters assembled in the town’s Victory Square to call for services to be restored as part of the Call 999 for the NHS national day of action on Valentine’s Day.

Hospital managers at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have said the changes have been based on clinical advice and services will not be returned.

Mum-of-one Michelle McKintyre is helping to co-ordinate the campaign and said: “We are not getting anywhere so we want to take it further. We are working our way up.

“Our main aim is to get better health care for Hartlepool and want our services back.

“We are still in the planning stage, but we will be going in April. We have had 60 people say they will go and we aim to get more.

“We want a symbolic gesture while we’re there that we are doing something.”

Michelle, of the Dyke House area of Hartlepool, said campaigners are also planning to attend filming of the BBC political show Question Time today and hope to even raise the issue of the hospital.

The show will be broadcast from Teesside High School in Eaglescliffe.

The guests include former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine; Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP; Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary Caroline Flint MP; and businessman and star of Dragon’s Den, Duncan Bannatyne.

She added: “There are three of us going and we are hoping that we will be able to ask a question.”

Town MP Iain Wright and a delegation of councillors are die to meet with Health minister Jeremy Hunt next week over the issue where they will also hand over the Mail 12-000-name Bring them Back petition.

Agencies must work together says trust boss’

HOSPITAL trust bosses say all agencies must work together in providing services.

Coun David Riddle called for the local authority to withdraw all co-operation with the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust over its refusal to return hospital services to the town.

The motion was ruled “out of order” by the council’s Legal Services Manager Alyson Carmen on the grounds that withdrawing cooperation would contravene the local authority’s legal obligations and put many in the town, particularly children and vulnerable adults, at risk.

Now the trust’s director of nursing, patient safety and quality, Cath Siddle, has said: “As a trust we need to work closely with the local authority on issues of child and adult protection as well as the safe discharge of patients back into the community. That anyone would be prepared to compromise the safety of vulnerable children and adults by proposing a motion of withdrawing co-operation with the trust is very alarming and would only penalise the people of Hartlepool.

“We realise people are worried about services but once again we must stress that, like elsewhere in the country, some hospital services have had to be centralised so they can be provided safely and conform to the national standards required 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our own clinicians spelled out the reasons for centralisation quite clearly at the recent meeting in the Town Hall Theatre and the audience in their responses understood those reasons.

“The whole idea of the new hospital was because, as we looked forward, we knew services could not stay as they were and continue to be sustainable. Ideally we would have liked to have been bringing services together in the new hospital and we share the frustrations of the people of Hartlepool and Easington that, because of the complex approvals process, this has not yet happened. This is why services have had to be centralised, with or without the new hospital.

“People may not agree with the need to bring services together, but day to day working between ourselves and the local authority should never be compromised because it is in no one’s interests to do so and it puts vulnerable people at risk.”