Pressure mounting over plans to cut fertility services in Hartlepool

Easington MP Grahame Morris.
Easington MP Grahame Morris.

Another MP has joined those demanding answers to questions arising from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation's move to axe services.

MP for Easington, Grahame Morris, has joined Hartlepool MP Iain Wright in challenging health bosses to answer a series of key questions over the closure of a fertility service at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Mr Wright has asked questions in Parliament to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and is seeking answers to a number of questions around the axing of licensed fertility services provided at the town hospital, including details of attempts to recruit embryologists.

The trust has reiterated that it has tried desperately to find an embryologist to allow the Assisted Reproduction Unit service to continue and advertised the post three times.

However, the Royal College of Nursing, RCN, claims that the post was only advertised once in September and then it was only for a week.

Mr Morris said: “We need to know the real reasons why North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is closing its IVF and fertility treatment unit at Hartlepool.

"I am concerned that little effort was made to recruit the staff necessary to retain the unit, and an issue over safety has been purposely engineered with a view to closing the unit.

"I fear the decision to close the unit has more to do with cost cutting in view of the trust’s budget deficits.

"It is unacceptable that services continue to be to run down and I am concerned that safety issues have been used too many times by the trust to justify the closure of services at Hartlepool."

There have now been calls for the trust to put any decision about the future of the unit on hold until all questions have been answered.

In a letter to Alan Foster, chief executive of the hospital trust, Mr Wright said: “This is a further example of services being closed or moved away from Hartlepool which undermines still further the future viability of the town’s hospital.

“I have asked Parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Health asking for further information on whether there is a national shortage of embryologists.”

The trust says it advertised for the embryologist post three times in six months and added all vacancies are advertised online meaning anyone in the world can see it and apply.