Outrage at plans to move outpatient services from Hartlepool hospital

The new One Life Hartlepool building.
The new One Life Hartlepool building.

CONTROVERSIAL plans to transfer a range of outpatient services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool will go-ahead this summer.

Angry councillors have expressed “disappointment” and accused health bosses of ignoring residents’ views but as several services will relocate from the Holdforth Road hospital to One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road.

Services include rheumatology, diabetes and respiratory outpatient clinics, pain services, acupuncture and electrical nerve stimulation treatment.

Meanwhile, the ear, nose and throat clinic, core physiotherapy and anti-blood clotting treatment will also be relocated.

Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, who chairs Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum, said: “I am very disappointed that the views of this forum have not been listened to.”

Coun Akers-Belcher will write to express concerns, which centre around transferring services, plus inadequate parking and transport provision at One Life.

Hospital campaigners have again expressed concern about the hospital’s future viability and this decision follows the closure of the A&E department in August 2011.

Keith Fisher, independent councillor and Save Our Hospital campaigner, added: “We are very disappointed our point of view seems to have been ignored.

“The public want services retained at the hospital.

“It is against public opinion, which came through this committee.”

The relocation was due to start last July but it was postponed and the health scrutiny forum had narrowly voted to reject the plans in December.

But the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are not controlled by the council and a tabled letter to yesterday’s forum confirmed the changes.

Signed by Ali Wilson, chief officer at the CCG, and Julie Gillon, the trust’s chief operating officer/deputy chief executive, it read: “As we believe that the changes will bring real benefits to Hartlepool patients accessing these services and to the quality of the services themselves, we intend to make the appropriate clinics at the new venue to be made available on the Choose and Book System imminently.

“This will mean that services will be available from the One Life Centre from August.”

Health chiefs stress they need to maintain and improve clinical services in line with professional standards and national guidance and say the transfer would help bring services together as part of a “one-stop shop”.

Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, representing the CCG at the meeting, said: “If there is evidence that services have deteriorated we are committed to making sure that is reversed.”

Julie Gillon, lead director for the Momentum Pathways to Healthcare programme at the trust, didn’t attend yesterday’s meeting but said in a statement: “The outpatients clinics will be moved to One Life Hartlepool as part of the Momentum: Pathways to Healthcare programme.

“We are working with our commissioners to ensure a smooth transition and to ensure services remain accessible to patients in Hartlepool.

“Given the importance of this, I’ve made it my business to make several visits to the scrutiny committee to talk through the issue.

“After a lot of discussions with patients, both organisations agreed that these changes will bring real benefits to patients accessing these services in Hartlepool.”