HEALTH chiefs have given their backing for the transfer of critical care services from Hartlepool to Stockton.
The governing bodies of the region’s two clinical commissioning groups yesterday approved the proposals.
It paves the way for plans to centralise all emergency medical and critical care services at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
The proposal, which will cost £2.3m and affect 10,000 patients, will see all emergency admissions go to North Tees, four emergency medical wards close at Hartlepool with a total of 135 beds removed and affect around 200 jobs.
The NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield clinical commissioning groups gave their backing to the move after considering the feedback from a 12-week public consultation exercise.
They also sought assurances from the hospital bosses on the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust about the main concerns raised by members of the public of transport and patient safety.
Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, chair of the Hartlepool and Stockton-on Tees CCG, said: “This now means both CCGs have formally accepted the suggestion of the trust having had the opportunity to listen to other viewpoints and interpret the evidence presented.
“We have now had the assurances of the safety of the proposed changes, the need and that this is for the best for the population affected, particularly Hartlepool.
“We have given our approval for this change to go ahead.”
The hospital trust says they need to centralise critical care in one place to meet new health standards and meet patients’ changing needs.
Most people from Hartlepool who responded to the public consultation said they were against to the move, though some accepted the clinical reasons behind it.
People’s biggest concerns were around difficulties in getting to the North Tees site about what the extra distance could mean for critically ill patients.
Julie Gillon, chief operating officer for the trust, said it will work closely with local authorities to make sure there are enough bus services.
Paul Garvin, chairman of the trust, said: “We recognise a number of issues where we have to work closely together with the local authorities to ensure we continue to deliver the very best, safest services we can for our patients.
“That has always been at the forefront of our thinking.”
Health leaders are due to meet with local authority scrutiny groups throughout this week to discuss the outcome of the consultation and the next steps.