Fertility unit jobs set to go.
Byline: James Cain Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
NINE jobs will be lost at a hospital trust's fertility unit - because it can't recruit the expert staff needed.
Licensed fertility treatments provided by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will no longer be available from the end of March because the trust is unable to recruit enough embryologists to continue to provide the current service safely. Licensed treatments require an embryologist and are governed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
However, the trust says it will still be providing some general infertility treatments. The trust will be working with other service providers to look at the way services are provided in the future and to ensure that patients continue to receive appropriate treatment.
The decision has been made after a comprehensive review of the service provided at the University Hospital of Hartlepool's Assisted Reproduction Unit.
A staff consultation has begun and the trust says "every effort will be made to redeploy the staff within the trust".
The nearest hospital offering licensed fertility treatments is Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital. Patients are being informed of the changes and they will be supported while they are transferred to another unit of their choice.
The service began in the early 1990s before moving to the new refurbished unit in 2008. It provides on average 250 cycles of licensed fertility treatments each year.
Husband and wife Lee and Leanne Derbyshire had their nine-month-old twin sons, Frankie and Will, thanks to the unit. Lee and Leanne, both 35, said that the benefits of having the service so close to their home in Stockton was very important to them.
Lee said: "Thinking back to our treatment, it would have added a lot more pressure at a time when the last thing you need is any more pressure. The fact that the service was on offer so close to home was important to us.
"You're not having to travel miles and miles and that takes a lot of the pressure out of it.
"Going through the fertility treatment was probably the most stressful thing I've ever been through in my life, I'm gutted for anybody who is in the same situation we were. To not have the opportunity to access that service like we were able to is terrible.
"The nearest one would be James Cook now," he added. "It always seemed to have a longer waiting list there, and now that's going to be the only one in the area.
"With Hartlepool being smaller it seemed a lot more personal, you knew all the staff - that really helped.
"The staff there are absolutely phenomenal. They're all really supportive."
Medical director David Emerton said: "This decision is not a reflection of the quality of the service which has been provided for a number of years by the trust. We understand that this decision will be disappointing for patients. We have made every effort for some time to recruit, however we cannot continue to provide all aspects of the current service safely due to an inability to recruit embryologists."
| Leanne and Lee Derbyshire with twins Frankie and Will at a recent Christmas party for Hartlepool's Assisted Reproduction Unit families IAN COOPER