Plans for health service overhaul to be unveiled within months

Health bosses hope to unveil a new vision for the future of health services for patients from Hartlepool and East Durham within months.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 5:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 5:38 pm
University Hospital of North Tees.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are in talks about sharing resources with a view to cutting costs and allowing them to retain services, particularly at North Tees, James Cook and Darlington Memorial hospitals.

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan has already proved controversial.

A proposed reorganisation that would have seen either Stockton’s University Hospital of North Tees or Darlington Memorial Hospital lose their Accident and Emergency department was scrapped following a public outcry.

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The three trusts have now brought in former acting NHS chief executive Sir Ian Carruthers to look at ways to improve co-operation that can be supported by both members of staff and the public.

Alan Foster, sustainability and transformation partnerships lead for the North East and North Cumbria, is the man charged with making the co-operation plans a reality.

He said Sir Ian’s experience made him the perfect person to work with staff on drafting changes with which they would be happy.

“What we have brought in, hopefully is, someone who can actually try to get the clinicians to agree to some of the details,” said Mr Foster.

“We have a lot of work to do, but hopefully we can do that on the next two to three months, so we can talk to the public, talk to our communities about the details, and when people say ‘What does that mean for me and my local hospital?’, we will be able to go into a lot of detail.

“We want to be set out what we are doing to the community.”

Working together and sharing staff and resources was a way to ease financial pressure and ensure the three trusts were able to continue to provide services over as wide an area as possible: “For the people of Hartlepool, it is important that North Tees keeps as much as possible,” said Mr Foster.

It was also essential to find new ways to attract and retain the best staff in the region.

“We have got to look to the future and make sure the area is an attractive place to work, because we are recruiting from a national pool,” said Mr Foster.

“There is a medical school at Newcastle, there is a new medical school at Sunderland.

“The trick is to give them a good experience so hopefully they remain in the region.

“They have got transferable skills, so they may move elsewhere.”