Local MP Alex Cunningham has asked health bosses to think again over plans to axe orthodontic services north of the River Tees and further afield.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust currently provides orthodontic services from its hospital sites at James Cook University Hospital, the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton, Bishop Auckland Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of North Tees and University Hospital of Hartlepool. However the Trust has decided that from next year the provision of these services will cease at all of above hospitals, with the exception of James Cook University Hospital and the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton.
The Trust blames this centralisation of orthodontic provision on the lack of success in recruiting trained orthodontic consultants to the area, and claims that as the majority of routine orthodontic care is now provided in a community-based setting, patients will not suffer. However, the Trust has admitted that those patients requiring more complex treatment (usually accessed in hospitals) will have to travel further.
Alex has written to the Tees Valley Joint Scrutiny and Overview Committee on the issue, urging them to robustly challenge the proposals and seek a reconfiguration of services to minimise any disruption for patients north of the Tees.
“Any changes to the provision of orthodontic services needs to be fair to all communities and many people north of the Tees, particularly those in County Durham, already have longer journeys to access the service.”
“I urge the South Tees NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust to reconsider the decision to pull all services for the Tees and beyond into Middlesbrough and to take further action to successfully recruit trained orthodontic specialists that communities north of the Tees deserve.”