Hartlepool fertility unit: Reprieve for under threat hospital service

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

Under threat fertility services in Hartlepool have been given a temporary reprieve ahead of a High Court hearing.

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

But Hartlepool Council won an injunction, claiming the trust had not properly consulted on the move.

Ahead of a further hearing on Tuesday the organisations agreed to a three-month consultation.

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

'Public funds'

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

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

A trust statement said: "The trust has reached agreement with Hartlepool Borough Council to enter into engagement and consultation with key stakeholders about the future of the assisted reproductive unit at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

"This agreement has been approved by the High Court, on substantially the same terms as proposed by the trust in February 2016.

"It is disappointing that the council felt the need to resort to litigation, which the trust feels was unnecessary and a waste of public funds.

"We look forward to working with key stakeholders about the future of the assisted reproduction unit."

The council said it was satisfied with the outcome and would engage fully in the consultation process.

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