Hundreds of people gathered to protest against the removal of NHS services from a Teesside hospital.
Over 800 people joined forces to take part in the Save Hartlepool Hospital Protest Walk.
The event was organised by Sue Little in response to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s decision to move services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool to the trust’s other base – the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton.
Services lost in the town include the children’s ward, maternity and the A&E department, which closed in August 2011 after being declared unfit for purpose.
Now, people with minor injuries are seen at NHS centre One Life Hartlepool and those with more serious cases are taken to Stockton.
And with fears that the ‘super-hospital’ at Wynyard, which was due to replace both hospitals within the trust, will never get off the ground, residents fear the prospect of having North Tees as their local hospital.
Communities in East Durham, as far as Easington, are also affected as patients must travel to Stockton rather then the nearer Hartlepool.
No decision on any of the services is expected before a General Election.
“We’re all annoyed about what has happened to our hospital and the services being moved to Stockton,” said Sue, a mum-of-three from Seaton Carew. “This is why we are here.
“We want to send a message loud and clear to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust that we are not going to lie down on this matter. We want our services back.”
“The turn out has been fantastic,” she added. “I want the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to see this strength of feeling.”
Saturday’s walk started at Seaton Carew bus station and ended at the hospital.
There were dozens of stewards helping out, as well as a police presence and a support vehicle following the marchers.
Another supporter at the march was Keith Fisher, chair of the Save our Hospital group.
The 72-year-old said: “We are not saying we want services here instead of at Stockton – we want them at both.
“The first march that ever took place was to save our hospital and then we were protesting to keep our A&E. Now we are demanding we get out services back.”
Edna Wright, a former Liberal Democrat representative on Hartlepool Borough Council from 1991 until 2012, has been heavily involved in the hospital fight for many years.
She said: “I have been fighting against this move for 14 years when they first wanted to transfer cancer services to Middlesbrough.
“I said this hospital would go bit by bit, limb by limb and it has.
“North Tees can’t cope by itself and they are not admitting that – this hospital is being used behind closed doors and it needs to be kept open.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 10 Jan 2014
A cash-strapped health trust is spending what has been described as an “obscene” £350,000 to relocate offices of its management and other services.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright says the cash for the “flashy” offices at the town’s hospital could have been better used keeping two hospital-based nurseries open for at least 18 months.
The repositioning of the rooms at the University Hospital of Hartlepool comes at a time when services are being stripped away and shifted to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
But bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation trust, which is £1.25m in deficit, say the move is part of centralising remaining services in the main tower block of the Holdforth Road site and will save £550,000 on running costs.
A disgruntled trust worker told the Mail that a number of offices, including a chief executive’s office with en-suite toilet, chairman’s office, a boardroom and administration offices, were being created at the town site on what was Ward 5, on the third floor.
It comes as a consultation is underway to close the day nurseries at the two hospitals, which have lost £764,000 in four years, with around 50 jobs at risk.
Union chiefs have slammed the move as “obscene”, especially in light of the proposed axing of the nurseries.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said:
“The idea that £350,000 is being spent, speaking as an accountant, I can’t see where the savings are going to be made.
“£350,000 could keep the nurseries at Hartlepool and North Tees open for another 18 months.
“You have got a spending priority at a time when the NHS is starved of funds, and it wouldn’t be flashy offices.”
The worker, who did not wish to be named, said the relocation work included the stripping out of oxygen tubes from the ward’s former use.
Work to fit carpets in the offices was carried out on a Bank Holiday, but the trust says this did not incur any extra costs.
The worker said:
“I can’t understand why Alan Foster is putting an office suite and other rooms in while they are talking about closing Hartlepool hospital.
“And he is trying to close the nurseries at the two hospitals, yet he has built these new offices.”
Unison area organiser Mark Edmundson said:
“At a time when the trust is proposing to close two nurseries that provide essential childcare for trust staff and the local community and also make people redundant, the cost of these offices is simply obscene.
“Unison urges the trust to look again at the nursery closure; perhaps fewer new offices for the highest-paid executives at the trust would enable this lifeline for hard-working people to remain open.”
Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, which includes North Tees, said:
“I am very surprised that the trust would spend such huge amounts of money on offices at a time when they are contemplating cuts to things like nursery provision.
“If they are able to make savings of half a million pounds as a result, that’s money that could be directly invested in the nursery provision, which could be expanded, if there is a will to do that.”
The trust’s associated director of estates and facilities Peter Mitchell said:
“Work is continuing to ensure we make best use of the buildings and space at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
“The plan is to bring in as many services as possible into the main hospital building to improve security and quality.
“Services which have been occupied in the Hart Building including office space, meeting rooms, wheelchair services, ICT, the sewing room, medical records and domestic services are being moved into a space formerly used as wards in the main hospital building.
“The costs associated with the space utilisation work is £350,000. It is estimated that by moving these services and closing the Hart Building, the trust will save around £550,000 – money to be put back into patient care.”
The trust says the toilet associated with Mr Foster’s office was already there.
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 07 Oct 2014
More than £900 for a single shift?
That’s what a Teesside hospital trust paid to one of its agency workers for a single day’s work this year.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust paid out £907 to a staffing agency for one person to do one 11.5 hour shift some time after December 2013.
That works out at £78.87 an hour.
The NHS spends hundreds of millions of pounds a year on temporary staff and is increasingly being forced to find cover at the last minute as government cuts stretch staffing resources.
Although the figure for the North Tees trust, which operates the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, seems high, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that hourly rates for agency staff can go up to as much as £540.
This massive figure was paid out by the North Bristol NHS Trust in 2011 to an agency for a temporary worker to cover a 10.25 hour shift – meaning their total bill for one day’s work from one person was £5,554.
Chief executive Alan Foster for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said:
“There are always going to be occasions where we need to provide cover for shifts at short notice and we have measures in place to keep our agency spend down to an absolute minimum.
“We have a mix of our own staff who sign up to work additional shifts through our nurse bank and people from outside the organisation, including other NHS organisations, who have a zero hours contract with us which allows us to call on them when we need to.
“It is good to have this flexibility so we can respond quickly.”
South Tees Hopsitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, failed to provide a response to the Freedom of Information request.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 19 Sept 2014