A few weeks ago it was announced that an independent review panel will be looking yet again at maternity and children's services in the Tees area. This new review undermines the earlier Darzi report and jeopardises the work already done.
The Darzi report argued that the creation of specialist centres of excellence in various fields would allow hospitals in the Tees area to build up capacity and remain sustainable.I believe that the Darzi report was correct in its conclusions. If the Darzi recommendations are put into place, this would see Hartlepool becoming a centre of excellence for women's and children's services. This new review threatens the future of women’s and children's services in Hartlepool.
When Parliament returns I hope to secure a debate about this vital issue. There will also be a need to make strong clinical and medical arguments to the independent review panel. But strong community protest is vital. I hope you and the rest of the town will join me in the campaign to save our hospital.
I mentioned in my last column the old saying that a week is a long time in politics. I also mentioned that on such an enormous issue as the future viability of hospital services in Hartlepool it was important that the whole town pulled together to show how important this is.
The past week has confirmed to me, if I needed any confirmation, that I did exactly the right thing in resigning my position as a Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Department for Health to fight the decision by the Health Secretary to look again at maternity and children’s services in the Tees area. Everywhere I have been in the past week, I have been stopped by people saying that I did the right thing. I was stopped at the Pools match last Tuesday night saying that I was right. I was even stopped getting on a piece of equipment at the gym (a very rare occurrence for me, going to the gym, but the Great North Run is imminent), saying that I had done the right thing. Somebody came to see me at my constituency surgery on Friday and compared my resignation with Manny Shinwell. A bit before my time, but, knowing what Manny Shinwell tried to do for the people of the North East, I took it as a compliment. Letter upon letter has come into my constituency office saying that I was right.