Tees

Hartlepool fertility closure: MP brands trust 'arrogant'

University Hospital of Hartlepool Image copyright Google
Image caption Licensed fertility services were to cease at the University Hospital of Hartlepool's assisted reproduction unit at the end of March, the trust said

A Hartlepool MP has branded a health trust "arrogant" for failing to attend a public meeting over proposals to scrap fertility services.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust announced it was to stop licensed fertility treatment, including IVF, at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Hartlepool Borough Council "summoned" the trust to the scrutiny meeting, but only a legal representative attended.

Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said the trust's decision was "contemptuous".

"I think there are serious questions to be answered and I think as a public body and with something as important as local hospital services, it's right that the trust is accountable to this council.

"I think it contemptuous and arrogant that the trust haven't taken the opportunity to be able to answer those very very serious questions at the meeting today," Mr Wright said.

The legal representative asked for an adjournment of the meeting, which was hoped to be a chance to put questions to the trust.

'A sad loss'

A trust spokesperson said: "The trust advised the council that they were not following a proper and due process by calling a clinician who is not an appropriate member of the clinical senate, qualified to give independent clinical advice to the council."

The trust said it made the decision to scrap services "reluctantly" after being unable to recruit enough embryologists.

Jake Turnbull from the Royal College of Nursing said: "The trust has claimed that the closure of this excellent unit is due to the fact that they can't recruit sufficient staff to the unit.

"But they were able to recruit to the unit as recently as May 2015, and in the three months to December 2015, they made no effort at all to recruit to the unit.

"If the real reason that they are closing the unit is because they want to remove a range of services from the hospital, then they should say so.

"They should also have a full public consultation, not do this on the sly."

Bev Andrews who had her daughter Rachel through IVF 21 years ago, said: "It's vital. We need this unit to stay open in Hartlepool... it will be a sad loss if it does all come to an end."

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