'Soon there will be nothing left' - readers react to plans for future of neonatal services
Hartlepool parents have reacted to proposals which could see some neonatal services move to Middlesbrough.
Services currently delivered at the neonatal unit at the University Hospital of North Tees could be transferred to James Cook University Hospital by the end of the year, under plans from NHS England.
Hundreds of premature and sick babies, including those from Hartlepool, are cared for at the specialist unit at North Tees each year - but the proposals mean that this unit would be downgraded to a "special baby care" unit, and unable to provide some services. James Cook would expand its services, while north Tees would only care for babies born after more than 30 weeks.
It currently cares for babies at more than 26 weeks.
At a meeting in the town held in February, the health scrutiny committee heard that NHS England's proposals would only affect about 20 babies a year.
Sunderland Royal Hospital would provide intensive care for babies born under 20 weeks for the whole region.
The plans have been criticised by Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chairman of the North East Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, and Mike Hill, Hartlepool's MP.
Here is how you reacted to the proposals on social media:
Paula Bradley: "Absolutely disgraceful."
Gren Long: "They’ll continue to use these 'little-used services' away until it isn’t viable to keep it open any longer. All in the master plan."
Keighley Middlemiss: "Such a shame when we were in last year they were talking of this move. Unit is fab and as for Sunderland providing the extra care as well I got moved from there to North Tees as they were full. North Tees wasn't exactly empty either, such a loss if they move it would hate to think what could happen."
Pauline Church: "How much further are people going to have to travel to get hospital treatment?"
Jude Macintosh: "Anything else! Are they trying to dilute the population. Less people less services. What more do they want to take. Build more houses, people would be stupid to move here. Soon there will be nothing left."
Paul Mowbray: "It's all going over there, bit by bit there [will] be nothing left!"
John William Shaw: "Absolute disgrace. The people of Hartlepool and the surrounding area are being let down again."
Katie Wigg: "Absolute joke and what’s going to happen when James Cook gets into the position North Tees is in? Too many patients and not enough beds."
Gemma Wilson Mckie: "Open Hartlepool hospital bk up to take the pressures of North Tees and James Cook, we already got people struggling and dying as not getting right and fast treatment, it will get even worse for people living further away like Hartlepool and so on."