Tees

North Tees and Hartlepool Hospital Trust halts fertility service

Fertility services at a hospital trust are being scrapped because of a lack of staff.

North Tees and Hartlepool Trust is "reluctantly" ending the service at the end of March and referring patients to other units.

A spokesman said there was difficulty in recruiting enough embryologists to keep services going safely.

Around 250 IVF cycles are provided a year, with their loss "vehemently" opposed by Hartlepool Council.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belche said: "The announcement has come completely out of the blue and we feel badly let down by the lack of consultation.

"The 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."

'Disappointing decision'

He said a meeting would be held with the trust to discuss the "shock announcement".

But the trust's medical director David Emerton said: "This decision is not a reflection of the quality of the service which has been provided for a number of years by the trust.

"We understand that this decision will be disappointing for patients.

"We have made every effort for some time to recruit, however we cannot continue to provide all aspects of the current service safely due to an inability to recruit embryologists."

A staff consultation exercise is under way and efforts are being made to redeploy employees, he said.

He added: "Patients are being informed of the changes and they will be supported while they are transferred to another unit of their choice."

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