Hartlepool mayor says he will boycott trust’s health services over lack of hospital ‘choice’

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

HARTLEPOOL’S ceremonial mayor has declared he is boycotting services run by a health trust after they moved remaining critical care services out of the town’s hospital.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher said for pre-planned medical appointments he won’t be using services run by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

It comes after the trust pushed ahead with plans to centralise emergency medical and critical care services at North Tees.

Coun Akers-Belcher revealed his stance at a meeting of Hartlepool Borough Council’s audit and governance committee, which met to hear developments on council proposals to engage with alternative health trusts.

The ceremonial mayor said it was important to let residents know they have a choice where they are treated, apart from emergency admissions.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “We do need to promote choice. We are in a situation where members have had a lot of bad feeling that ultimately does have a strain on the working relationship.

“At the moment they are the only show in town, but hopefully we can work with other trusts. The only time you don’t have a choice is if it is a 999 emergency.”

Coun Akers-Belcher added: “I am boycotting North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and will refuse to use them unless I don’t have a choice.”

The controversial changes mean all emergency admissions go to North Tees, with four emergency medical wards closed at Hartlepool with a total of 135 beds removed and the jobs of around 200 people affected.

Also, Hartlepool’s critical care unit, which included two intensive care beds and two high-dependency beds, has been relocated to North Tees.

Council leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher, said the changes caused “great concern” among residents, but added regional health bosses are currently carrying out a mapping exercise to highlight exactly which services are provided by health trusts.

Coun Akers-Belcher has asked officials to present the report and information on a new choose and book e-system to a future meeting.

He added: “We should be taking the lead as a council and giving people that choice.”