Hospital trust summoned to special meeting to explain axing of fertility services

Cllr Ray Martin-Wells Portrait
Cllr Ray Martin-Wells Portrait
Published Thursday, 14th January 2016

A SPECIAL meeting has been arranged in Hartlepool on Friday 5 February to enable the town’s hospital chiefs to explain the rationale behind the decision to cease providing key fertility services at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

It follows the “shock” announcement earlier this week that the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will no longer provide licensed fertility treatment, including IVF, after March from the Holdforth Road site.

This prompted anger from senior Hartlepool councillors who immediately ordered hospital bosses to explain the decision before a meeting of Hartlepool Council’s Audit & Governance Committee – the scrutiny arm of the Council.

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, chair of the Council’s Audit & Governance Committee, said: “In October last year the Hospital Trust made us aware that they were having some staff recruitment difficulties but at no time have they mentioned closing fertility services at Hartlepool.

“I have summoned the Trust – a statutory power the Audit and Governance Committee has as the scrutiny arm of the Council - to explain this shock decision and unless they can come up with an acceptable rationale, I’ll be recommending as Chair that we refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health.

“This news is particularly disappointing as we’ve just been working with the Hospital Trust to find a way to avert the imminent closure of specialist neo-natal services at North Tees.”

Councillor Ray Martin-Wells added: “At the meeting we’ll be asking the Hospital Trust for a full explanation as to how they arrived at this decision.

“As a Council we are working really hard to bring services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool and this decision goes completely against the wishes of local people.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the Leader of Hartlepool Council, said: “Hartlepool Council is vehemently opposed to the ceasing of any services from the University Hospital of Hartlepool and we will be fighting this all of the way.

“The announcement has come completely out of the blue and we feel badly let down by the lack of consultation.”

The meeting is scheduled to start at 2.30pm and members of the public are welcome to attend.