Hospital chief should ‘hand back MBE’ if more services are moved

Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher
Coun Stephen Akers-Belcher

A SENIOR councillor has called on a hospital chief to hand back his MBE if services are removed from the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher believes Alan Foster, chief executive of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, should hand back the honour he received for services to health if more services are moved to the University Hospital of North Tees.

Alan Foster

Alan Foster

Coun Akers-Belcher is the former chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum, and is now vice-chairman of the audit and governance committee, which has responsibility for health services.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “If more services move from Hartlepool hospital then Mr Foster should hand back the MBE he got for services to health because if more services leave then that is clearly a disservice to Hartlepool and its people.”

Mr Foster was included in the Queen’s New Year honours list back in 2012.

Coun Akers-Belcher added: “The plans are not clearly laid out and the CCG and NHS Trust need to be open and honest and I have urged them to meet with councillors to outline a clear proposal.

“Moving services will be like moving another card from a tower of cards, eventually everything will fall down.

“They say this will only affect 30 people a day but if you add that up over the year it is almost 11,000 people.”

Independent councillor Keith Fisher is now chairman of the audit and governance committee, which is yet to meet, so he said it would not be appropriate to speak on their behalf.

But Coun Fisher, who is a former member of the health scrutiny forum, did say: “I do here call upon everyone who has concerns, who do care about local health service provision, who have personal experiences or fears and therefore demand the return of our star rated services to turn out to the public meetings and have their say.

“I cannot guarantee that you, or I, will have any affect whatsoever on these unelected quangos but what is certain is that if you don’t turn up you won’t be heard and your absence will be used against your principles.

“Please do not allow such people to simply mark their tick boxes and say that you were consulted but no one was there.”

Coun Fisher also said the council backed a resolution last year that opposed the movement of services and a vote of no confidence in the Trust board of directors.

Town MP Iain Wright said: “Clinical safety has to be of paramount importance in the design of health services and we have to take advice from experts with regards clinical safety.

“Having said that I have serious concerns that this is a process which has been forecast in Hartlepool for many years, the cutting by stealth and transfer of services to North Tees.”

Mr Wright said he was opposed to the movement of services away from Hartlepool to North Tees and called on councillors in Hartlepool to look closely at the plans and said he wanted to be heavily involved as well.