Hospital campaigners welcome Minister’s meeting over health services in Hartlepool

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

SAVE Our Hospital campaigners have welcomed a meeting between a town MP and a Government minister over the future of Hartlepool’s hospital.

And avid protester Keith Fisher is urging Hartlepool Borough Council to “withdraw co-operation” with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust to further reflect the wishes of the town.

Mr Fisher spoke to the Mail following news that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had agreed to a meeting with Hartlepool MP Iain Wright to “discuss the growing uncertainty about the future of Hartlepool’s hospital”.

The move was a u-turn by Mr Hunt who initially rejected the chance to attend a meeting to discuss concerns over hospital services in the town in January.

Today, Mr Fisher said: “I and anyone else who is genuinely determined to Save Our Hospital will always applaud any efforts made on our behalf.

He added: “I consider that the direct and effective next step to their twice agreed vote of no confidence would be the complete withdrawal of all cooperation between Hartlepool Borough Council and the Trust quango.

“That action would constitute a genuine reflection of the wishes of us ordinary people and most certainly would be a fair measure of who our representatives actually represent.”

Mr Fisher also hoped that the effort by Mr Wright was not a political move ahead of elections.

He said: “However, we are neither polite enough nor naive enough to ignore the fact that it is electioneering season. It cannot be by chance that interest, support, and promises, always reappear when the polling stations are being readied.

“That reality suggests that this current ‘meeting’ with a Minister will certainly take time and thereby complete the well-trodden circular route where ‘efforts have been seen to be done’ before an election.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “I would like to thank Iain Wright for his perseverance in securing a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt as MP on behalf of the town. As the town’s MP, Iain shares the huge concerns expressed by the Council and the tens of thousands of Hartlepool residents over the continuing transfer of hospital services from Hartlepool to North Tees including A & E. Iain has invited me to attend the meeting and it will present an opportunity to express directly to the Minister the massive strength of feeling in our town about the current state of hospital services. Hartlepool people want high quality, local hospital services which are accessible to them and they simply do not want to travel to North Tees. We will be relaying this message from the people of Hartlepool to Mr Hunt and it is hoped that he can intervene to remedy what is currently a hugely unacceptable situation with our hospital services.”

Hartlepool’s hospital services have been at the centre of dispute for months after health bosses said there was “no chance” of services being brought back to town.