After 4 years of campaigning to save our hospital and countless promises that it was safe from closure from The Prime Minister and the (then) Health Secretary, my wife and a few others were informed in a meeting last week that they were lied to, we all were. The University Hospital of Hartlepool is going to be downsized and closed within the next four years. Seems that no matter what was done to try and Save the Hospital I have a feeling that it was going to be closed anyway. This was how the news was given to the rest of Hartlepool the next day.
This is what the Hartlepool mail had to say on the subject.
"Hospital set to close
THE Government today stands accused of betraying Hartlepool and east Durham over the future of our hospital.
In September 2004 – days before a crunch by-election Labour was desperate to win – Prime Minister Tony Blair made a promise over the University Hospital of Hartlepool. He told the Mail: "There is no question of the hospital closing or services being rundown.
"John Reid (the then Health Secretary) is saying it won't close, I'm saying it won't close. I don't know what the next authority is you go to."
Labour's Iain Wright was elected MP a few days later.
Today we learn that following a near four-year review of hospital services, Hartlepool's hospital is to be replaced with a single new one somewhere north of the Tees.
Until that is built – perhaps within as little as four years – maternity and children's services in Hartlepool will be downgraded and the consultant-led services will be centralised at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
This bitter blow to the people of Hartlepool and east Durham goes against the recommendations of Professor Ara Darzi, the top consultant drafted in by the Government itself to advise on how services could be maintained in Hartlepool.
He had called for a centre of excellence in Hartlepool for children's and maternity services.
The University Hospital of Hartlepool
It comes after accident and emergency services at Hartlepool hospital have been downgraded,
…it comes after MP Iain Wright resigned his government position over the issue,
…and it comes after 32,403 people signed the Mail's Save Our Services campaign petition calling for the Darzi proposals to be followed to the letter.
What must all the people of Hartlepool and east Durham be thinking today when they remember the promises made?
The Mail would guess they feel misled, double-crossed and betrayed."
About 32,000 people signed the petitions raised to stop the closure. 32,000 out of a town with a population around 90,000. My wife and Mother in law were two who stood in the town centre collecting these signatures, comments such as "it wont be closed" and "not now I am busy" were used by many who were asked to sign. Well to those of you who were "Too busy" Hartlepool is going to loose its hospital because you didn't want to rock the boat.