Hartlepool fertility services bidder rejected
Health managers wanting to close a hospital unit because there is no-one to run it rejected a company's bid to do so, the BBC has learned.
After a reprieve, plans were renewed to shut Hartlepool's fertility unit after no suitable provider could be found.
A bid by Care Fertility was rejected despite the company already running services at the hospital.
The area's clinical commissioning group said "bids received did not meet the benchmark requirements".
The closure of the University Hospital of Hartlepool's licensed fertility services, including IVF, was suggested in early 2016 when managers said they could not recruit enough embryologists to keep the unit going safely.
Information 'not revealed'
Hartlepool Council was granted a High Court injunction stopping the closure and it was later announced the unit would remain in the town but would be run by an alternative provider.
However, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group said it had received only a limited response in the bidding process and interested parties had not met quality standards.
It added it had a duty to comply with "very clear regulations in relation to NHS public sector bodies procuring services" and its priority was to ensure any commissioned service "is safe, clinically effective and of the highest quality".
Care Fertility, which operates 15 clinics across Britain and supports fertility services in Hartlepool, said it was "disappointed not to be awarded the contract".
"Care Fertility have been helping Hartlepool's IVF team to maintain their fertility services for several months," it said.
"We understand that some or all of the service will transfer to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough which was not revealed in the tender process."
Hartlepool councillor Ray Martin Wells earlier said the council had been contacted in October by "interested parties who were finding it extremely difficult to get the information that they required to put the bids together".
The decision is to be discussed by the council scrutiny panel next month.