Hartlepool’s MP Mike Hill wants to see services brought back to Hartlepool’s hospital and says it is fit for purpose.
Speaking to the Mail after his first 100 days as the town’s new MP, Mr Hill said he believes the University Hospital of Hartlepool is in better condition than neighbouring North Tees hospital in Stockton, where most patients are now sent.
But he also spoke of his fears that certain hospital services, including some at North Tees, could be moved even further away under NHS England’s Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs).
Hartlepool hospital’s accident and emergency department closed six years ago.
But the University Hospital of North Tees’s A&E department could be downgraded as part of the STPs.
Mr Hill said: “The risk to local services is unless we campaign hard there could be a pull of services not only away from Hartlepool but also Stockton, particularly around acute care.
It’s unacceptable that fundamental health needs cannot be met in local hospitals like HartlepoolMike Hill MP
“Everybody in Hartlepool is quite rightly concerned about the loss of A&E to the town.
“If the STPs develop in the way I suspect they will do, the nearest in Stockton is seriously under threat.
“Other services are likely to become shared due to staff shortages across a much bigger area, such as maternity which might drift further away from Hartlepool.
“I believe with proper investment the NHS has capacity for providing care closer to home and that it’s unacceptable that fundamental health needs cannot be met in local hospitals like Hartlepool.”
It was reported last week that more than £4m needs to be spent at the University Hospital of North Tees to urgent repairs.
But Mr Hill said Hartlepool hospital was in better condition.
He said: “It would cost millions to repatriate services into Hartlepool, but compare that with the millions being spent propping up North Tees.
“Hartlepool hospital is in much better shape, even though it’s an older building. It is fit for purpose.
“As MP I can’t see why we can’t have service repatriation back into the hospital that people rely on and need. “When people really need the NHS they should have their own hospital to go to.
“I believe it was wrong to shut A&E.
“I am looking to campaign, working with neighbouring MPs, to try to protect NHS services in Hartlepool.”
MP vows to fight for town
Mike Hill also spoke about the scale of the challenges Hartlepool faces following years of public funding cuts.
He said he will lobby the government at every opportunity to fight for funding, jobs, and health and social care services to help deprived communities recover and thrive.
Mr Hill said: “Hartlepool has among the highest levels of child and family poverty in the country.
“A significant number of households are out of work. That cannot be right and that needs to be addressed.
“We have got to address the austerity agenda so we get funding into the borough.
“We need to invest in new housing, create more affordable homes and make Hartlepool attractive to businesses to want to invest and tourists wanting to come to Hartlepool.
“The Government needs to address the lack of investment in the borough, both public services and economic infrastructure.
“It needs to get serious about providing sufficient funding for our schools and our NHS.
“It needs to acknowledge the levels of deprivation resulting from years of austerity to help bring our communities back to life again.”
Since being elected in June, Mr Hill says he has replied to over 450 people who have contacted him on a range of issues.
He has also visited numerous groups and business including Tata Steel, Hartlepool power station, Hartlepool lifeboat station, Harbour refuge, the Bob Farrow Centre, all three emergency services, and Heugh Battery Museum.
Mr Hill added: “I hope my first 100 days have shown I’m fulfilling my commitment to be a community based MP, talking about issues that affect people in the town.
“I am trying to make changes that improve people’s lives. My intention is to carry on in the same vein, and to meet as many groups of people that I possibly can.
“I’m honoured to have been elected by the people. I’m determined to repay that with as much energy and effort as I possibly can.
“I will continue to campaign over issues that count, particularly around NHS services and social care. I will be true to the will of the people in terms of our approach Brexit.”