An investigation by a Tees Valley health watchdog into the withdrawal of all hospital based orthodontic services north of the River Tees has said that nothing more could be done.
But Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham remains hopeful that the plans by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s will remain under scrutiny over the coming months.
The Tees Valley Health Scrutiny Joint Committee, whilst acknowledging that every alternative had been considered in closing the orthodontic services in Stockton, Hartlepool, Bishop Auckland & Darlington, did however emphasise that the local development of orthodontist services should be pursued.
With fewer orthodontic services in hospitals in future, the Committee also called for the Foundation Trust to actively consider the commissioning of additional specialist orthodontic practitioner capacity, to ensure that as many people who can be dealt with in the community, get the treatment they need close to home.
“Whilst I understand the acknowledgement of the problems facing the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, I’m disappointed that the Scrutiny Committee accept that all services North of the Tees are abandoned whilst the two south of the Tees are retained.
“I do however welcome the statement that the Committee expects the Trust to continue its efforts to recruit – and I would hope that members would return to the issue before the last service north of the Tees is closed down in autumn 2012 and explore just what has been done to try and sustain the service.
“Assuming no solution is found at that time again I would hope the Committee would continue to take an interest in the service in the hope that one day, recruitment will be easier and services north of the Tees can be reinstated.”