Minister asked to visit Hartlepool hospital over concerns at run-down of services

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

GOVERNMENT chiefs are considering their response after a letter slamming a health trust was sent to them by concerned councillors.

Hartlepool Borough Council sent a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, to ask him to step into the row with North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

The letter, which was signed by ceremonial mayor Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher, council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher and chief executive Dave Stubbs as well all of the councillors who attended a heated public meeting last month, informs Mr Hunt of the concerns over the long-running Wynyard saga.

The three-page letter calls for Mr Hunt to either come to Hartlepool to gauge the strength of feeling in the town or to invite a council delegation to the capital.

The letter also makes Mr Hunt aware of the fact that the council has recorded a vote of no confidence in the Trust over its refusal to restore services to Hartlepool hospital following the latest delay at Wynyard.

Officials at the Department of Health confirmed to the Mail today that the letter had been received, and the council will receive correspondence in the form of a reply “in due course”.

The Trust has come in for criticism after consistently refusing to consider moving services back to the Holdforth Road-based hospital, with fears that everything will eventually be centralised at its sister hospital in Stockton.

A series of public meetings, the most notable one seeing more than 300 people pack into the Town Hall Theatre, were arranged after the Trust announced plans for the new £300m hospital at Wynyard were being “shelved” until after the General Election next May.

A spokesman for the Department of Health told the Mail: “I can confirm that the letter has been received and a reply will be sent in due course.”

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher said: “We have had an acknowledgement, and it is now in the hands of the minister.

“He will now have to make a decision on what he wants to do. He has been made aware of the situation and all of the facts about our concerns.

“We now have to wait and see how long it remains in his in-tray for, and we look forward to hearing the response as to whether he wants to meet with us to discuss the issue further,”

Meanwhile, despite Trust chiefs Alan Foster and Paul Garvin continuing to stress that services will not return, signatures are continuing to pour in from Mail readers backing our ‘Bring Them Back’ petition.

More than 11,000 signatures have been added to the petition, which was set up in the first week of November after the most recent Wynyard announcement.

To add your name, call into the Mail reception in Wesley Square on weekdays between 10am-2pm or CLICK HERE