Health union chiefs say hospital bosses have gone a step too far by slashing fertility services.
Earlier this week it was announced that fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool will be cut at the end of March.
Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say the decision to no longer provide licensed fertility treatment, including IVF, had been made “reluctantly” after a comprehensive review of the service provided hospital’s assisted reproduction unit.
They claimed they had not been able to recruit enough embryologists to continue to provide the current service safely.
However, in an unusual move, Unison, which represents staff at the hospital, has hit out at the latest cuts.
Mike Hill, Regional Organiser for Unison, said: “The unions have traditionally been silent on the future direction of the trust because post Wynyard it has become a political football and our first duty is to our members, but plans to close the ARU (assisted reproduction unit) are a step too far.
“This is a much needed and well supported service and has actually attracted income into the trust through welcome donations from the local community.
“The disappearance of yet another service from Hartlepool hospital has raised the spectre again about the future of the site and prompted further speculation that the management team are set on a pathway to retreat to their Alamo in Stockton and carry on cutting services from there.”
The decision to cut the services means that licensed fertility treatments will no longer be provided, however, the trust says it will still be providing some general infertility treatments.
A trust spokesman said that it will be working with other organisations to look at the way services are provided in the future, to ensure that patients continue to receive appropriate treatment.
A staff consultation has also begun with “every effort” being made to redeploy the staff within the trust.