HEALTH Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes politicians in Hartlepool are in the “driving seat”, over bringing back the town’s hospital services, MP Iain Wright has told the Mail.
Mr Wright, along with the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, The Mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, and fellow cross-party councillors, travelled to London yesterday to meet Mr Hunt.
This meeting turned out better than I could have hoped for.Iain Wright MP
The group handed over a 12,000-name petition created through the Mail’s ‘Bring them Back’ campaign to ensure services – including the A&E department – return to the University Hospital of Hartlepool from the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
We launched the campaign after plans for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard were put on hold by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust after being unable to secure £100m of Government funding.
Mr Wright and the rest of the delegation said they were delighted with how well the 45-minute meeting went.
They were informed that the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will be referred to Monitor – a public body which regulates health services in England.
Mr Wright said: “This meeting turned out to be better than I could have hoped for.
“We have basically been told that we are in driving seat to ensure that services return back to Hartlepool.
“Mr Hunt said that we all need to work together - the council, the local clinical commissioning group, the Trust, and the people of Hartlepool - to come up with a credible plan on how services can be delivered.
“He also said we have to make sure that we use the powers that are available to us, and I told him just how much it would mean to people if these services could be reinstated.”
Coun Akers-Belcher has said he will be in contact with the Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Trust today.
He said: “We now have to put all of our political differences aside and come up with a plan which can be derived by NHS England.
“I will be opening dialogues with the CCG, the hospital Trust and our health and wellbeing board at once. I am very happy with how the meeting went.”
Also in attendance at the meeting was local Conservative, Coun Brenda Loynes, UKIP’S Coun Tom Hind and Coun Keith Dawkins, who represents Putting Hartlepool First.
Coun Dawkins said: “We are so pleased with the outcome of the meeting, it’s not every day you get to meet and raise your concerns with a minister.”
The Mayor, Coun Akers-Belcher added: “We would like to thank the MP, Mr Wright, for securing this meeting for us.
“We now have an alterative route which we can go down, but this is where the real work starts.
“We must make sure we can create a credible plan for how services can be delivered to the people of Hartlepool.”
A spokesman for the Trust said: “We look forward to hearing details from the meeting in due course.”