People being urged to have their say on future of health services

Hartlepool College of Further Education will host the meeting
Hartlepool College of Further Education will host the meeting

A new series of public meetings have been announced as part of a major shake up of NHS services.

Ten events across the North East have been announced by leaders of the Better Health Programme with one in Hartlepool.

The programme is looking at a host of options for how and where services across County Durham and the Tees Valley are provided in the future from GP level to hospitals.

It is in response to increasing demand, people living longer and having more complex conditions.

A number of events have already taken place over the summer.

As part of the next round of engagement, programme leaders will visit Hartlepool College of Further Education, on Monday, October 24 at 6pm-8pm.

It will focus on feedback from previous events, progress on the programme so far and latest developments in care outside of hospital.

Programme leaders says no decisions have been made about hospital services and a consultation is expected to start early next year.

Unlike in previous engagement phases, the Better Health Programme’s October engagement will not include in the North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group area.

Dr Neil O’Brien, chief clinical officer for North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Where patients travel to access services has been considered by NHS leaders.

“In North Durham the majority of patients use hospital services in Durham, Gateshead and Sunderland rather than travelling down to South Tees.

“Rather than being part of the Better Health Programme, a separate programme will be developed looking at the sustainability of acute hospital services in North Durham and wider afield in Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.”

Programme leaders say at the moment patients’ experience a different quality of care depending on where and when they are treated.

Some hospitals will become emergency centres for serious illness and life threatening conditions such as strokes and serious injury.

But it has led to fears from patients groups of downgrading of other hospital’s services and patients having to travel even further.

Dr O’Brien said previously: “The view of the clinical leadership of the programme is that having the right workforce available to meet patients’ needs 24/7 means we need to look at specialist emergency care for adults and children being provided from fewer sites.”

To register for the Hartlepool event (01642) 745401.