Hospital bosses have spoken out about proposed changes to intensive care services for babies in the region.
An independent report by the Royal College of Child Health has recommended that the neonatal intensive care at the University Hospital of North Tees be downgraded to provide just special care.
The proposals could see parents, including those from Hartlepool and East Durham, have to travel to Middlesbrough, Sunderland or Newcastle instead.
Leaders of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust criticised the report for lacking options.
Chief Executive Alan Foster said: “I’m quite passionate about this and have made my position clear across the region.
“We are not against change but it needs to be evidence based and it needs to be for the right reasons.
We’re not against change but it needs to be for the right reasonsAlan Foster, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive
“There is not enough evidence in the report comparing outcomes to determine where we should look to to redesign these services.”
Mr Foster said North Tees hospital’s results were on a par with James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
He added the review also needed to consider women’s and children’s services which he said are “inextricably linked”.
Trust chairman Paul Garvin objected to the tone of the report, adding: “Yes it lacks options but also the language is very biased and not objective.
“When talking about consultants it says ‘North Tees only has five’. Sunderland also has five but the language is completely different.” Trust leaders and clinicians will discuss their concerns in a meeting with the Royal College.
The report recommended that the Great North Children’s Hospital (GNCH) in Newcastle, Sunderland Royal Hospital and James Cook in Middlesbrough all continue as Neonatal Intensive Care (NIC) units.