Mayor hails Hartlepool hospital services but says there is 'huge opportunity' to do more
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen hailed the “amazing” services being delivered on a tour of Hartlepool hospital, but said there is a huge opportunity to do even more.
Mr Houchen, who has pledged to reintroduce healthcare services in Hartlepool including at the University Hospital of Hartlepool if he is re-elected in May, was shown around the site by leaders of the hospital trust on Wednesday, January 22.
He saw the work of the hospital’s Urgent Care and Minor Injuries Unit and 22-bed Holdforth Unit which provides nursing care and rehabilitation for elderly people closer to home before being discharged from hospital.
Mayor Houchen said he was also impressed with how Hartlepool Borough Council and trust staff work together in an integrated team to provide care services and packages to patients in the community more quickly.
But he said he wants to see a reintroduction of full maternity services and has written to the Northern Powerhouse to request more powers to be able to give more local responsibility for deciding what services that people need.
Mr Houchen said: “Hartlepool is delivering some amazing services and some great outcomes for people.
“ I think from speaking to the management here and the people who deliver the care on the ground what we can see is there’s a huge opportunity to deliver even more in Hartlepool.
“ I think a real conversation about the reintroduction of full maternity services back here.
“They already do some great wrap-around care, but I want to make sure people are stillborn in Hartlepool.”
Julie Gillon, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said Mr Houchen’s aspirations for Hartlepool are in line with their own.
Ms Gillon said: “Bringing back services to Hartlepool and on the Hartlepool site is absolutely within our strategy.
“We need to be realistic about what we can provide.
“Specialist services are becoming delivered more and more in specialist sites like Newcastle or Leeds.
“We need to look at what we can offer to our district population and not bring services back it would be inappropriate or unsafe to do so.
“We have talked aspirationally with Ben about what we can do together.”
Mr Houchen said places like Greater Manchester that have been given greater responsibility for health and social care, and the budgets that come with it, are seeing better outcomes for people.
His election pledges, including establishing a state-of-the-art dementia care facility and making Hartlepool a UK lead in elective and orthopaedic care, have won the backing of the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council Shane Moore.
Councillor Moore said: “I very much welcome and support any moves to reintroduce health services in Hartlepool, and I am of course especially keen that maternity services are returned to our town.“I will do everything I can to support Mayor Houchen in his efforts to obtain the necessary powers from central government to allow local decision-makers to reintroduce the services people need at Hartlepool’s hospital.”