Tees

Hartlepool fertility unit: Judge halts closure plan

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

Plans to end fertility services at a Teesside hospital have been halted by a High Court judge after council bosses took legal action.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust wants to end licensed fertility treatment, including IVF, at University Hospital Hartlepool on 31 March.

But Hartlepool council went to the High Court, claiming the trust had not properly consulted on the move.

The trust has now been told not to act until a further hearing on 5 April.

Problems in recruiting enough embryologists have been blamed for the trust's decision.

'Ride roughshod'

But Hartlepool Borough Council claims health bosses acted too quickly, failed to properly consult with the public and could have done more to attract trained staff.

Around 250 IVF cycles are provided each year at the hospital, with the trust pledging to refer affected patients to other units in the region.

Ray Martin-Wells, chairman of the council's audit and governance committee, said: "We have been notified by the High Court that there will be a hearing on 5 April and the trust cannot therefore implement closure before then.

"As a council, we are simply not prepared to allow the trust to ride roughshod over the people of this town."

The authority launched legal action after it and the town's MP branded trust officials as "arrogant" for refusing to attend a public meeting last month to discuss the closure proposals.

No-one from the trust was available for comment.

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