Hartlepool hospital: Council leader writes to health secretary over funding ‘frustration’

Christopher Akers-Belcher.
Christopher Akers-Belcher.

A council leader has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over the decision to invest in hospital services in Stockton rather than Hartlepool.

It follows the recent revelation that North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (FT) is seeking £50m from the Government to improve the University Hospital of North Tees.

Hartlepool Borough Council and the vast majority of town residents are calling for services to be transferred back from Stockton, including A&E.

In his letter to Mr Hunt, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher says: “Amid concerns regarding the availability of funding for a new hospital on the Wynyard site, we have become aware of a funding request by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust (FT) for £50m to upgrade existing facilities at its University Hospital of North Tees.

“£25m initially requested to support infrastructure work, with a further £25m to upgrade patient facilities (including a larger A&E).

“Whilst this request has been supported by James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, we would like to express our bitter disappointment and frustration that the FT’s vision for the future appears to focus solely on the provision of

services at the University Hospital of North Tees (UHNT) site, with the total exclusion of the University Hospital of Hartlepool (UHH).

“This further demonstrates the Trust’s disregard for the needs and wishes of residents from Hartlepool, and the surrounding communities of Sedgefield, Easington and Peterlee, for the provision of effective and sustainable services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

“You are already fully aware of our serious concerns about the suitability/effectiveness of current, and future planned, hospital services for Hartlepool and we indeed discussed them in detail with you at our meeting on 3 March 2015.”

The letter goes on to say that following an earlier meeting with Mr Hunt, the council is working closely with NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to develop a local plan for the provision of integrated health and social care services for Hartlepool.

The letter concludes: “With the potential impact of the local plan, and resulting changes to the model for the delivery of health and social care services in Hartlepool, it is remiss of the FT to focus its funding request solely on the UHNT.

“On this basis, it is essential that UHH be given a fair and equal allocation of any funding made available to support the implementation of integrated health and social care services in Hartlepool.”