Labour's Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth pledges review of hospital services on Hartlepool by-election visit, claiming Tories have 'forgotten' town
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth promised a review of Hartlepool’s health services if Labour get into power during a visit to the town.
Mr Ashworth visited Hartlepool on April 6 to support party by-election candidate Dr Paul Williams, who hopes to regain the town for Labour following the resignation of Mike Hill.
Mr Ashworth and Dr Williams signed a heart-shaped card on which was written a pledge to fight for more services to be brought to the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and oppose any moves to downgrade it.
The shadow health secretary said: “Dr Williams isn’t waiting to get elected, he’s already fighting for the health service here in Hartlepool.
"He’s already spoken to me about the needs of people here, so I’ve committed that working with Paul that we will have a Hartlepool Health Review if I’m the Health Secretary and make sure that people in this area can access the very best quality care that they deserve.
"This area is getting forgotten by the Tory government. The public health budget, rather than being increased so we can drive up those vaccination rates and drive down Covid infections rates, is being frozen.
"We need Dr Paul Williams in this area fighting for local people. That’s why I’m proud to be here to support his campaign today.”
Dr Williams, who works as an NHS doctor in Hartlepool including at the hospital, said there is “so much more” that could be delivered from the building.
He said: “When you listen to Hartlepool patients, they still have to travel to Stockton, to Middlesbrough for things that could perfectly safely be delivered here.”
Dr Williams believes maternity services and the urgent care centre could be enhanced further, and wants to see more diagnostics and operations being carried out.
"There are 4.5 million people on NHS waiting lists at the moment,” he said. “We’ve got brilliant operating theatres here with fantastic staff.
“I would like to see them put into action, if necessary seven days a week making sure we get through that backlog.”
Commenting on a poll currently putting the Conservatives ahead of Labour, Mr Ashworth said: “The poll that counts is the one on election day.”