Fertility services are set to stay in Hartlepool after health chiefs said they will look for a new provider to run the town hospital’s Assisted Reproduction Unit.
The unit’s current providers, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, announced their intentions to end licensed treatments, such as IVF in January this year.
The trust said the unit had become unsafe to run due to difficulties in recruiting embryologists.
But following a six week consultation process, Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) today announced it will begin the process to find a new provider.
It is after 58% of the people who took part in the consultation said they wanted both licensed and unlicensed assisted reproduction services to remain in Hartlepool.
The decision, which was met with jubilation from councillors and members of the public, was announced by the CCG at a meeting of Hartlepool council’s Audit and Governance Committee on Thursday.
Decision is a victory for democracy and common senseCouncillor Ray Martin Wells, Hartlepool Borough Council
Ali Wilson, chief officer of the CCG, which pays for health service to meet patients’ needs, said: “We have made the decision having weighed up all benefits and risks and challenges to retain the service in Hartlepool at the hospital that we would pursue option one which was to have a comprehensive reproduction service, including the licensed and unlicensed provision to remain at Hartlepool hospital delivered by an alternative provider.
“Existing provision will be maintained for patients. Patients who were already involved or about to be involved are unlikely to see any change.”
The hospital trust has told the CCG it will allow the unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool to be used by another provider.
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the council scrutiny committee, said: “That decision is a victory for democracy and common sense.”
One patient, who wished to be known only as Peter, told the meeting of the stress the threat to the unit has caused.
He said: “This has affected patients. Luckily, we managed to squeeze one cycle in.
“This has been the most stressful six months of my life.”
He called on the CCG and council to hold the hospital trust to account for its actions.
Councillors called for investigations into previous decisions by the hospital trust such as that to close the town’s A&E department.