VIDEO: Protest over Hartlepool hospital nursery closure

PROTESTERS today staged a demonstration over plans to close a hospital’s children’s nursery in Hartlepool.

The rally is in response to plans by North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust to close the Rainbow Day Nursery at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and its counterpart at North Tees in Stockton.

Members of Unison Northern Region, Teesside Northern Public Services Alliance, and Friends of North Tees Nurseries, gathered at University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton in protest.

The action took place between 11am and 2pm, to coincide with a meeting of the Trust’s Executive Board at the hospital.

The trust announced in September that it was to shut the two sites – which provide 178 childcare places – later this year with the loss of more than 50 full and part-time jobs jobs, including 20 at the Rainbow Day Nursery.

It also emerged that the two nurseries were predicted to have cost the trust £764,000 in the last four years.

But Unison says the decision was made without any talks first.

Mark Edmundson, Unison area organiser said: “North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust ratified the decision to close the day nurseries on August 12, nearly one month before they deemed it appropriate to engage in any talks with Unison, the trade union representing the staff in the nursery who will be made redundant as a result of the closure decision.

It took yet another month for the trust to give Unison the information we requested.

“Unison lodged a formal dispute with the trust earlier this month as this consultation is clearly neither fair nor meaningful.

“A fixed intention to close was made long before the trust fully engaged with Unison.”

One nursery staff member said: “Making the decision to close the day nurseries before engaging in consultation makes a mockery of the whole process.

“Unison, trust staff and the local community are rightly furious at the decision being taken out of their hands.

“The trust is urged to reverse this decision and engage in a formal consultation with all stakeholders to look at alternatives.”

The two sites cater for 178 children of medical staff as well as for youngsters from the wider community, leaving scores of parents having to find alternative childcare.

Around 20 nursery nurses at the Hartlepool nursery are affected, and 30 at Stockton.