A PENSIONER who has dedicated her life to helping the community is calling for a public meeting over the future of the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
Mary Power, 78, from the West View area, was one of a number of people who helped to gather 30,000 signatures against the hospital’s closure during a campaign in 2006.
The mother of four and grandmother of seven regularly uses the hospital’s rehabilitation unit after suffering a stroke in February.
Mrs Power said the hospital desperately needs to stay in the town. She has now written a letter to Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.
Mrs Power, who was a Hartlepool Borough Council resident representative for the Brus ward until last year, said: “I asked why they wanted to move the hospital when 30,000 people were against it and Professor Ara Darzi requested it to stay.
“I also asked why they were getting into debt to build a new hospital nobody wanted that is going to be too far out.
“I’m trying to organise a public meeting. We need to do something, especially as the A&E department is due to close on August 2.
“I would like Mayor Stuart Drummond and Iain Wright MP to get involved in a meeting and need help to organise it. People don’t want this hospital moving.”
Widow Mrs Power, who served in the Army and was a rivet-catcher in Gray’s shipyards, has volunteered for various town organisations. Mayor Drummond said: “I can understand everybody’s concerns over the future of the hospital and the future of the services in the town. I’m trying to get a clearer understanding with senior management of the hospital trust.
“Exactly what the future does hold needs to be spelled out for people and am always interested in improving communications between the public and decision makers.”
Mr Wright said: “Mrs Power has not been in touch with me. But the idea of a meeting where members of the public can question the NHS about what is going on and NHS management can explain the rationale behind any changes would be welcomed.”
A hospital trust spokeswoman said: “The changes in urgent and emergency care were recommended by an independent report published in March. The changes are designed to ensure services are as safe as they can be and will last.
“The hospital will remain open until the new hospital to serve Hartlepool, Stockton and parts of Easington and Sedgefield opens at Wynyard Business Park, we hope in 2016.
“We are working to transform services, bringing them out of hospital where it’s safe and sensible to do so.
“By the time the new hospital is open, many more of the services people need will be provided in or close to their homes with fewer people needing to be admitted to hospital.”
Mrs Dower asks anyone interested in organising a public meeting to contact her on 07884 086959.