CONCERNED residents hit out at health chiefs over plans to transfer remaining emergency services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The public consultation was held because of plans to move all remaining critical care to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, later this year.
Residents raised concerns about transport and the future viability of the Holdforth Road site.
But health chiefs stressed that while the current service is safe, it is not sustainable to meet rising standards.
Jean Kennedy, 74, of Waldon Street, said: “This is a tragedy for Hartlepool and the collieries. They are taking away our peace of mind.”
Mary Power, 80, of Atkinson Court, said: “I came to find out more because I really worry about the future of our hospital.”
Labour councillor Paul Beck and Conservative councillor Brenda Loynes also raised concerns at the drop-in event at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.
Victor Tumilty, 67, said: “People are rightly concerned about more health services being moved out of town.”
Meanwhile, Michael Sherry, 69, added: “The public transport and parking at North Tees is a big issue.”
The plans – which follow the closure of the A&E department in 2011 – would see all emergency admissions go to North Tees, four emergency medical wards close at Hartlepool with up to 120 beds removed and the jobs of up to 300 people affected.
Also, the critical care unit, which includes two intensive care beds and two high-dependency beds, relocated – to add to North Tees’s 12-bed critical care unit.
The University Hospital of Hartlepool would become a centre for day case and low risk operations with an increase in medical rehabilitation beds.
It follows an independent review of services by the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT), which was commissioned by the NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) after concerns from staff.
Suresh Narayanan, clinical director of anaesthetic and critical care at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is not about saving buildings but saving lives.
“The critical care services are safe but it is not sustainable in terms of meeting rising quality standards.”
Dr Boleslaw Posmyk, chairman of Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG, said: “We are absolutely committed to this consultation and we are listening.”
A further meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 19, at Norton Education Centre, Junction Road, Norton, at 5.30pm to 7.30pm.
Meanwhile, residents can also write to: Communication and Engagement, FREEPOST NEA9906, Middlesbrough, TS2 1BR or email email@example.com and the deadline is August 11.