Union calls for urgent action over new Hartlepool health plan

University Hospital of Hartlepool.
University Hospital of Hartlepool.

A union has called for urgent action to be taken to defend NHS services in Hartlepool following an expert’s views for future care provision in the town.

The regional branch of Unison, the UK’s largest public services union, says recommendations announced by Professor David Colin-Thome for health care in Hartlepool provide a blueprint to protect and improve local services in the face of potential big changes to the NHS.

Prof Colin-Thome was appointed last year to lead the Local Health and Social Care Working Group to identify priorities for the future provision of services within the town.

His recommendations include more planned surgery to take place at The University Hospital of Hartlepool; the integration of community, local authority and hospital services with general practice; to move services out of hospitals into the community.

There was disappointment from patient groups that Prof Colin-Thome did not call for A&E to return to Hartlepool hospital.

Unison regional organiser Mike Hill said: “Understandably the failure to support the restoration of Accident & Emergency to the hospital will not sit well with citizens of the town who quite rightly will always believe that they were robbed of this vital service and who believe that hospital provision has been undermined ever since, but in the face of more very real threats to NHS Services resulting from the Tory Government’s Better Health Programme the report at least provides a blueprint for rebuilding and bolstering health care provision in Hartlepool and crucially hospital based services.

“The Government driven Better Health Programme aims to deliver £22 billion worth of savings across the NHS.

“The Better Health Programme’s outcomes are likely to see integration of hospital based services, such as Pathology, but crucially could pose a very real threat to existing A&E units like the ones at Darlington Memorial Hospital and the University Hospital of North Tees.

“Given this scenario the likelihood of a return of A&E to Hartlepool any time soon seems very remote.

“This is why the recommendations by Prof Colin-Thome need to be taken seriously and implemented quickly because they provide a unique opportunity for investment in health provision focussed on local needs and clear demands to protect and consolidate NHS services in the town.”

Prof Colin-Thome’s full report will be presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board on October 17, the Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body on October 25 and Hartlepool Council on October 27.

Find out more about the Better Health Programme at https://nhsbetterhealth.org.uk