Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has responded to news that consultant led maternity services will not be centralised by saying full services should be returned to Hartlepool hospital.
Mr Hill’s comments come following an announcement by hospital chief Alan Foster, who is leading local shake-up plans under national Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs), to Hartlepool councillors last week.
Mr Foster said that consultant led maternity services will not be centralised at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
That was a fear of hospital campaigners and of members of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Audit and Governance Committee which is conducting an investigation into maternity services and theatre use at Hartlepool hospital.
They feared the consultant-led unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where many Hartlepool mums now give birth, would be downgraded to midwife led, the same as at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Mr Hill said: “The real will of the people is that full services should be restored to Hartlepool Hospital and that the continued diminution of services there should stop. This includes the maternity unit.
“It may be the case that continuing to provide consultant led services at North Tees means less travelling for Hartlepool mums, but there would be even less travelling required if the Trust reinvested in Holdforth Road.”
Mr Hill also said he hopes hospital leaders stick by their words after saying they would be happy to work with the council to try to increase the number of births at the Hartlepool birthing unit.
The number of town births has fallen dramatically in recent years as mothers are warned they would need to be rushed to North Tees hospital if there were any complications during birth.
Mr Foster said: “We want as many people to have safe births in Hartlepool as possible.”
Mr Hill said: “I sincerely hope these don’t turn out to be hollow words and empty promises.”
Members of the council’s Audit and Governance Committee are due to visit a midwife led unit in Blackburn where births are high to see if they can learn any lessons for Hartlepool.
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the committee, said: “It does seem slightly crazy we have got a unit delivering less than ten babies a year.”
Coun Brenda Harrison told hospital officials: “Women in Hartlepool want their babies to be born in Hartlepool.
“This town is a big enough town to support a maternity unit.”
It comes after the Save Hartlepool Hospital Group last month made a call to re-instate services back to Hartlepool hospital.
But the trust said at the time that specialist services, including A&E and the accredited trauma unit, need “scale and skill to deliver improved health outcomes for the most complex and acutely ill presentations, which is why we feel it is in our patients’ best interests to provide these services from one site”.