Hartlepool MP calls for residents to have more say on health services

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright used a Parliamentary debate to call for residents to have more say on health services.

Mr Wright spoke out during a debate on devolving powers to local areas and said the Government’s one-size-fits-all approach to governance is not the correct way ahead.

Mr Wright said he would like to see to see economic development, regeneration, skills and transport devolved, but he would also hope to see health matters devolved properly.

He said: “My constituents and I want to see hospital services return to Hartlepool - the Minister will know about this issue all too well - but my constituents feel powerless to ensure that that happens. Surely real devolution allows local people to feel empowered.

“Of course clinical safety has to be paramount and medical advice has to be prioritised, but decisions on hospital services are made by the NHS foundation trusts that do not have the support of the local population. Hartlepool Borough Council, regardless of political affiliation, are against the changes. I want to see hospital services return to Hartlepool, but there is a lack of real devolution, power and accountability at local level.

“ The people of Hartlepool do not feel that they are being listened to. If we are to have real devolution and accountability, that should always include public services vital to the people of an area, and there is no bigger such public service than the NHS, so will the Minister say something about how local people can have a real say about this?

Tory John Howell asked: “Does the honourable gentleman agree that the big prize is not just in transferring the NHS services, but in linking up the NHS with social care, so that they are all under one roof and decisions can be made about both at the same time?”

To which Mr Wright replied: “The honourable gentleman is absolutely right. That integration - ensuring that local authorities are working in conjunction with different parts of the NHS, which are often very silo-like in approach - is the key to ensuring that my constituency, as well as his own, gets the best possible health and social care.

“I shall summarise by saying that the people in my area would like more power over their future and their destiny, but the model proposed by the Government is rigid and fixed according to their own agenda rather than that of local areas. The Minister knows our part of the world incredibly well. I hope that he will show some flexibility in allowing proper devolution.”

He also asked the Minister to confirm that the combined authority for Teesside is working well and there is no need for a change in governance, so called him to discount chance of a mayor for Tees Valley.