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
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has accused the Government of “ignoring” the North East after plans were approved for a new hospital in the Midlands.
The Government has approved plans to build a new £353m acute care hospital near Birmingham using funding from the public and private sectors.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced approval for the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick during a visit to meet NHS leaders in the Midlands.
But while that hospital is due to open in 2019, the long-running saga over a planned new hospital at Wynyard shows no signs of coming to an end.
Mr Wright said: “I think this reflects the notion that the North East is not a priority for this Government.
“In many respects they don’t consider us as a pressing part of what they do.
“We were the worst hit on cuts in the whole country, and they are taking far too long to make their mind up on Wynyard.
“All this ongoing uncertainty is not helpful to concerns over the provision of healthcare in our area.”
Hartlepool councillors granted fresh planning permission for the Wynyard project back in February after an initial application lodged back in 2009 lapsed following a series of setbacks.
That move put the ball back in the court of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to find the funding to allow work to start.
If it ever gets the go-ahead, the development will include a 568-bed hospital with an extra 66 day beds, 26 wards and 14 operating theatres.
The trust is waiting for news of a £100m contribution from the Government towards the £272m scheme
The planned Wynyard hospital would replace the University Hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees, in Stockton.
The scheme which has received the green light in the Midlands has striking similarities to the Wynyard plan, with the new facility replacing some existing services at other sites operated by the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, including the accident and emergency departments at City and Sandwell hospitals.
Referring to the project, Mr Osborne said: “This ambitious package will ensure that patients across the West Midlands continue to benefit from access to world-class acute treatment and cutting-edge facilities.
“It is because of the difficult decisions we have taken as a government that we have been able to protect healthcare spending, and announce new facilities like the Midland Metropolitan Hospital.”
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s director of finance Lynne Hodgson said: “The trust’s independent regulator Monitor has completed its affordability assessment of the new hospital.
“Work is ongoing with Department of Health to finalise its analysis of the scheme.
“The Department of Health assessment considers affordability, value for money and the strategic fit for health care services in the Teesside area.
“It is hoped that this assessment will be concluded imminently after which the trust should receive a final decision.”
Source – Hartlepool Mail, 17 July 2014