Time running out to have a say on future of threatened Hartlepool hospital service

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People are being urged to have their say as a consultation which will help decide the future of fertility services in Hartlepool ends on Friday.

The six-week exercise was launched by local health chiefs after Hartlepool Borough Council sought an injunction to stop the closure of licensed fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

It is important to know what people think about the different options and that everyone has an opportunity to participate

Ali Wilson

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, previously tried to axe licensed services, such as IVF to help couples conceive, from the end of March.

The trust says it is unable to continue to deliver safe and clinically effective fertility services in the future due to an inability to recruit enough staff.

NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says it will continue to commission the required number of fertility treatment cycles for local patients. But who provides them and where they are provided from could change.

The consultation asks for views on three options.

The first is that a comprehensive assisted reproductive service, including licensed and unlicensed provision, remains at Hartlepool but delivered by an alternative provider.

The second is for unlicensed services still being delivered at Hartlepool but patients requiring licensed treatments choosing to go to other hospitals in the region.

A third option is for both licensed and unlicensed treatments to go out of town.

Ali Wilson, chief officer for the CCG said: “It is important to know what people think about the different options and that everyone has an opportunity to participate.”

The findings of the consultation are due to be considered by the council’s Audit and Governance Committee on Thursday, July 28, at 10am in the Civic Centre.

Committee chair, Coun Ray Martin-Wells said: “By taking action through the High Court, we have been able to keep the existing unit in Hartlepool open whilst there is a thorough and meaningful consultation to explore a number of options. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has indicated that it is unable to continue to deliver a safe and effective service so we need to explore all viable options and do everything we can to ensure that such a valuable and hugely important service continues. I would urge as many people as possible to take part in the consultation and let their views be known.”

Anyone who has not yet taken part can give their views at www.haveasay.org.uk/survey, call (01642) 745401 or email NECSU.Info-Comms@nhs.net