MP accuses health ministers of ‘shying away’ from Hartlepool hospital issue

Members of the public joined Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and other campaigners on a march from Seaton Carew to Hartlepool Hospital to protest at cuts to services.
Members of the public joined Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and other campaigners on a march from Seaton Carew to Hartlepool Hospital to protest at cuts to services.

HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright says he will keep up the pressure to force health ministers to meet with town leaders over the hospital.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has so far refused calls to attend a meeting with council representatives and Mr Wright to hear concerns over the transfer of key services from Hartlepool to Stockton and the succession of delays for a proposed new hospital at Wynyard.

Hartlepool Borough Council wrote to Mr Hunt just days after a heated public meeting at the Town Hall Theatre heard from hospital bosses that there was “no chance” of services being brought back to Hartlepool.

The letter, also made Mr Hunt aware of the 12,000 people who signed the Mail’s Bring Them Back petition, and invited the minister to Hartlepool or to meet a delegation from the council in London.

But Mr Hunt responded last month saying a meeting would not be “helpful”.

Mr Wright raised the issue during a debate in Parliament on Thursday when he asked the Leader of the House of Commons, William Hague, to intervene.

Photo Ian Robinson'The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP during the official opening of the refurbished offices of XLCR Vehicle Management in Colne

Photo Ian Robinson'The Rt. Hon. William Hague MP during the official opening of the refurbished offices of XLCR Vehicle Management in Colne

He asked: “Does the Leader of the House think that the refusal by Ministers to meet elected representatives is appropriate? In the light of that snub to Hartlepool, may we have a debate on the matter?”

Mr Hague responded that Jeremy Hunt has had meetings with MPs from all over the country recently on a variety of health matters.

He said: “I will tell my right honourable friend of his [Mr Wright’s] concerns, so that the Department of Health can further respond to him directly about this.”

Mr Wright said: “Myself and the council have had meetings with health ministers before.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

“I can’t see why they won’t meet now unless they are trying to shy away from the issue.

“I will continue to keep pressing and say that something very significant happened on October 23 when the local trust decided to pause development at Wynyard with nothing in return and no promise of being able to return services to Hartlepool.

“We need to air this with the secretary of state.

“I am still seeking a debate in the house. If we are not going to have a meeting between myself, the council and ministers I will bring them to Parliament.”

In his reply to the council Mr Hunt said in his letter: “I do not consider a meeting with me at this time would be helpful.

“Whilst I appreciate that this may be a disappointing reply, I hope it clarifies our position on the matter.”