The history of hospitals in Hartlepool dates back to an old infirmary built for the Hartlepool Union Workhouse which opened at Holdforth Road in 1889. That’s over 130 years of health care in the area – pre dating the NHS itself.
When the doors of the now Hartlepool Hospital (or University Hospital of Hartlepool to give the official title) opened in 1972 we faced illnesses and ailments that we are still tackling almost fifty years on.
In 1976 – a publication by the four governments of the UK – ‘Prevention and Health: Everybody’s Business’ outlined the need to reassess public and personal health. The premise being that the NHS needed to make a shift from a curative service to one that promoted health instead – prevention indeed being better than cure.
Fast forward to 2020, and we are still striving for positive population health, for equal health care provision for all of our populations across the whole of the country. The issue we face is that some of our communities require a different approach, and a new way of working to ensure that they can make positive change now and for the future.
Hartlepool remains one of the most deprived towns in the United Kingdom. Benefits claims double those of the national picture, housing, education and health statistics also fall behind the rest of the country.
After carefully listening to the people of Hartlepool, we have embarked upon ambitious plans to refocus and redevelop Hartlepool Hospital. We now need to capitalise on the learnings from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by realising the potential for the site, the ambitions for Hartlepool and the need to re-purpose how health care for the future is delivered.
We are exploring a phased redevelopment of the site, which will bring unique and exciting opportunities for the area – utilising the current site and buildings to provide services which will complement those already provided within the region.
Our plans involve investment in Hartlepool including ‘centres of excellence’ for elective care and clinical practice, the upgrade of existing facilities to offer the best environment for patients using services, a dementia care focus and an opportunity to partner with primary care to serve Hartlepool residents with a view to attract the best possible staff to the hospital.
In addition, we intend to modernise and upgrade the existing entrance and to explore the opportunity to create a green energy facility which would provide electricity and heat the entire re-developed hospital site.
We are working closely with key partners to ensure that what we develop and deliver is both affordable and credible for the communities we work to support.
Ambition has commenced
In early September 2020 we opened our Rowan Birthing Suite with the support of our colleagues in the local authority and wider community partners. Our ambition is clear – we want to support parents in the locality to have the opportunity to deliver their babies in their home town. We want to capitalise and harness more of this ambition.
The recent pandemic has impacted many of our services, and as we work towards recovery, whilst simultaneously keeping a watchful eye on the horizon for a potential second wave, we must also look to the future. That future includes ambitions for our Hartlepool site that supports a more ambitious and aspirant outlook for our communities here than ever before.
Working as part of a system, we want to ensure that this important hospital site can fulfil the potential to future-proof a town that has asked for investment, growth, security and sustainability. We have watched with admiration as Hartlepool Borough Council set out its plans for growth, and we are keen to support and be a part of this journey.
We know that the critical factors for changing the socio-economic landscape of Hartlepool lays with a number of key partners. As an NHS – we are your health care provider, but as a hospital in your town we are so much more.
Hartlepool Hospital – education for our young people
Our investment must focus on education, our young people within the town need to be assured that they can be aspirant for a fulfilling career within our organisation. As we move to grow services, and re-purpose how we deliver a health and care service of the future – they must become a part of that fabric.
Home grown doctors, nurses, consultants and surgeons. Digital pioneers, financial experts, HR practitioners and so much more. Health and care in Hartlepool has such a major contribution to make to the North East and we must start to ensure that dialogue is echoed around the town.
Hartlepool can, should and will become a destination town for those aspirant to work within the NHS. But we must concentrate first on working with a population that we believe is invested in its own future.
In a town and borough that boasts a population of 92,000 – the potential is exciting.
Our plans for our Hartlepool Hospital are ambitious, but they are no more than the staff, residents and business communities there deserve.