CONCERNED councillors have called for more information from health chiefs before supporting plans to transfer a string of services.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is proposing to move services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool and into One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road.
The phased programme was originally due to start in July but it was postponed.
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Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum has now called on the trust and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to provide more information about which services will be left at the hospital and how it would impact on the viability of the Holdforth Road site.
Health chiefs say the aim is to improve services as part of the wider Momentum programme, a key part is the new £300m hospital at Wynyard which would replace hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton.
Officials said there is a need to “maintain and improve” clinical services in line with professional standards and national guidance, adding any phased transfer would help bring services together as part of a “one-stop shop” at the One Life Hartlepool site.
But Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, forum chairman, said: “There has been a failure to ease members’ anxiety from the presentation and we should be furnished with all the facts.
“I can see the merit in moving services, but what does concern me is what impact that has on the hospital.”
Putting Hartlepool First group leader Geoff Lilley said: “Every time a service moves from the hospital site it affects the long-term viability.”
Any transfer would be done in three phases and phase one is the proposed relocation of rheumatology, diabetes, and respiratory outpatient clinics.
Phase two plans to transfer pain services, acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation treatment.
The final phase will see the relocation of the ear, nose and throat clinic, core physiotherapy and anti-blood clotting treatment.
Ali Wilson, chief officer for Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG, said: “This is quite a small shift in services to the town centre, not away from Hartlepool.”
She added: “We want to make sure that the services are safe, effective and fit with what is already at One Life Hartlepool.
“It brings it all together as a one-stop shop.”
Health chiefs say their plans are subject to external scrutiny from the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT), made up of clinical experts.
Julie Gillon, chief operating officer/deputy chief executive at the trust, said: “We have always said that we would have two viable hospitals until the new hospital opens.”
She added the transfer of outpatient services represented less than seven per cent of the activity at Hartlepool hospital in terms of new and review appointments.
Independent councillor Keith Fisher said the forum had heard the presentation before and said full council had passed a motion against any further services being removed from the hospital.
Coun Fisher said: “Which part of we will not support the removal of services from our hospital do you not understand?”
Mrs Gillon said it wasn’t the same presentation and said it was important to provide the most “appropriate services.”
Labour councillor Pamela Hargreaves said people were within their rights to change their minds if more information became available.
Coun Hargreaves added: “If the clinical advice is that it gives patients a better service than I could not, not support that.”