Hospital officials say they will investigate claims that Hartlepool patients are being steered towards the North Tees site when the same services are available in Hartlepool.
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells who heads Hartlepool Borough Council’s scrutiny body told hospital bosses he has heard of patients not being offered appointments at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
His claim came after after the council’s Audit and Governance Committee heard there has been a 13% reduction in daycase surgery carried out at Hartlepool since 2014.
Planned surgery where patients are admitted has increased from 1,148 cases in 2014-15 to 1,582 in 2016-17.
Coun Martin-Wells said he had anecdotal evidence Hartlepool residents who call the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust were told appointments are faster at the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton than Hartlepool.
He said: “We have seen a 13% reduction so there has got to be a reason.
“If the reason is they are being told that the service is quicker in North Tees or in fact they weren’t even offered Hartlepool in the beginning then we have an issue, and that’s one of the reasons we are scrutinising it.”
Coun Martin-Wells added: “We are over the moon that elective surgery is going up, but what we don’t want is Hartlepool residents having to go for day cases over to North Tees and end up in situation where they have no choice because the service is no longer available.”
Lynn Kirby from the trust said: “We will always offer the first appointment wherever that is and give patients that choice and we will certainly look into if patients are being offered Hartlepool because they should be offered that.”
Tess Moore, senior clinical matron for surgery and orthopedics at the hospital trust said they try and provide as much treatment as possible close to the patient’s home.
She said: “The majority of the outpatient services; the start of the patient pathway, the diagnostics, they are all on the Hartlepool site.” Trust staff said Hartlepool provides a number of outpatient, diagnostics, and review services. It is also the trust’s primary site for hip and knee replacemens.
Clinical commissioners said new earlier intervention and less invasive orthopedic treatments may have contributed to the Hartlepool reduction.