HOSPITAL bosses have denied claims that the closure of Hartlepool’s A&E has resulted in more pressure being put on the department at North Tees.
Transferring A&E from Hartlepool’s hospital to Stockton sparked fury in the town, and recent comments made by a senior clinician have raised concerns that the idea of centralising the service at North Tees has resulted in nurses struggling to cope with demand and leaving the service at “tipping point”.
Hartlepool’s ceremonial mayor, Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, has written to the trust following comments made by Dr Andrew Simpson, a clinical director of A&E, that increased patient numbers is leaving hospital rooms filled to capacity and problems moving people to other wards.
Coun Akers-Belcher is asking for an urgent reply to the concerns raised.
The trust have promised to reply in due course, but told the Mail that switching services down the A19 has resulted in a better service.
Coun Akers-Belcher wrote: “Clinical safety, resources and capacity have all been used as the basis for the movement of services away from the University Hospital of Hartlepool (UHH) in the past, including the transfer of A&E services in 2011 and reconfiguration of Emergency Medical and Critical Care Services in 2014.
“With the lack of space in A&E and shortage of beds at the UHNT identified by Dr Simpson as a primary factor in the current A&E crisis, the question now needs to be asked as to whether the provision of these services in their entirety from the UHNT is clinically safe and capable of meeting demand.
“It would appear from the comments made by your Clinical Director of A&E that A&E services from the UHNT are indeed failing in terms of capacity and potentially clinical safety.”
A trust spokeswoman said: “We thank the Ceremonial Mayor for his letter and we will be sending a reply in due course to give him a full explanation of the current situation we face and the arrangements which are being put in place to address it.
“Like the rest of the country, emergency services in our area are under pressure.
“Being able to meet the needs of patients who need emergency care also very much depends on the whole health and social care system working together and we are working with all of our partners in health and social care to put in arrangements which are helping us respond to the demand.
“The pressures felt by our trust are not a result of having centralised services.
“In fact centralising accident and emergency and with it critical care, emergency medicine and complex surgery has allowed us to provide extended hours of consultant and senior doctor cover so were are better placed to deal with the pressures and provide a consistent level of care at all hours of the day and night which we were unable to do across two sites.
“While we are under constant high levels of pressure, we continue to perform very well on our ambulance handover times and four hour targets which are among the best in the region and the country.
“This is a testament to our staff who are working very hard to ensure our patients get the care they need.”
The most recent figures show that in the week ended January 11, a total of 1,287 people attended the A&E department at North Tees, with a further 268 going to OneLife in Park Road.
The trust’s A&E waiting times were at 91.2 per cent, which is less than the Government target of 95 per cent, and shows a slight dip from the previous week’s figures of 91.8 per cent.