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LETTER: Tony Benn’s questions should be put to hospital trust

The University Hospital of Hartlepool
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

WE attended the public meeting in Hartlepool Town Hall on November 24, which had been called to allow the people of Hartlepool and East Durham to tell the board members of the North Tees & Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust exactly what they thought of their plans to build a new hospital at Wynyard.

The people spoke with passion and with one voice.

They derided the trust for its folly in attempting to build a new hospital which nobody wanted, with money that nobody had.

Their message was clear.

We want all services returned to the University Hospital of Hartlepool site.

It was obvious to everyone there, however, that another message was equally clear, this time from the members of the trust board.

We have made our decision.

We are not listening to you, and we will do whatever we want.

On the journey back to Blackhall we talked about the intransigent stance adopted by the trust board and the impact that this could have on the health care needs of the people of East Durham and Hartlepool.

It was clear that the trust was able to make such decisions simply because it was never elected and, accordingly, remains accountable to nobody.

We were reminded of a film we had seen recently at Durham Cathedral about the life of Tony Benn, one of the four images on the Blackhall lodge NUM banner.

In the film he spoke of organisations similar to the NHS Trust and of the five questions he would use to test the legitimacy of their being:

• What power have you got?

• Where did you get it from?

• In whose interests do you exercise it?

• To whom are you accountable?

• How do we get rid of you?

We feel that these searching questions are perfectly relevant to the trust board today and we challenge them to respond publicly to each.

Councillor Rob Crute and Councillor Lynn Pounder,

Blackhall Division,

Durham County Council.