'Furious' Labour Hartlepool by-election candidate hits back at 'hospital hypocrite' claims
Labour's candidate in the Hartlepool by-election has been accused of being a "hospital hypocrite" for his involvement in a report supporting the removal of critical care services from the town.
A senior Conservative has hit out at Labour's Dr Paul Williams, who is campaigning to bring more health services back to Hartlepool, for his role eight years ago in cuts at the town’s University Hospital.
Dr Williams was one of four GPs involved in a 2013 report which explained and took to public consultation recommendations to remove services, including critical care, from Hartlepool Hospital.
These recommendations were later fully adopted.
Speaking following the “hospital hypocrite” claims, Dr Williams said the 2013 move was the "only safe decision" for Hartlepool patients due to "Conservative funding cuts".
Yet Tory co-chair Amanda Milling MP said: "Despite everything he has said during this campaign, Dr Williams is a hospital hypocrite.
“He was responsible for a report that recommended moving services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool – and they were.
"These were services best delivered locally and which local people desperately wanted to stay in their local hospital.
"He then has the nerve to bring Labour front benchers up to Hartlepool complaining about a lack of hip replacements when he was responsible for stopping them in the first place."
Last week Dr Williams invited the shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, to Hartlepool, who commented on the lack of hip operations in the town.
Dr Williams said he was "furious" about the Conservative comments and added: "The Tories cut funding to the NHS and at the time I was trying to get the best possible deal for my patients.
"It was the only decision because of Tory funding cuts to the NHS, the only safe decision for Hartlepool patients, but we'll get those services back.
"I've got a track record of bringing services back to Hartlepool hospital.
"I actually led all of the town's GPs in the fightback, we worked together with the hospital at a time when there was no doctor even covering Hartlepool 24 hours, we opened the urgent care centre, I worked the first shift there and I'm continuing to work shifts there during this election campaign."
The Northern Independence Party and Reform UK have also criticised Dr Williams over the 2013 recommendations.