Tees

Hartlepool fertility services re-tendering rejected

University Hospital of Hartlepool Image copyright Google
Image caption The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it was unable to recruit enough staff for the fertility service

Health managers planning to close a hospital fertility unit have refused to put the service back out to tender.

It comes after a bidder to run University Hospital of Hartlepool's fertility services was rejected, despite already running services there.

Hartlepool Borough's council asked the area's clinical commissioning group (CCG) to explore with the bidder how it could reach the required standard.

But, the CCG said it could not lawfully treat one bidder differently.

Care Fertility, which operates 15 clinics across Britain and supports fertility services in Hartlepool, said in January it was "disappointed not to be awarded the contract".

'Unwelcome' precedent

The council's audit and governance committee asked the CCG to discuss with the firm how it could reduce risks highlighted in its rejected tender.

The CCG said this was not "reasonably practicable".

"It is simply not the role of the CCG to guide bidders to make successful tenders," it said.

It would be an "unusual and unwelcome" precedent for the CCG to advise bidders and would lead to accusations of unfairness if it did not do the same for all other bidders in the future, it said.

It also said re-tendering would take too long, could increase clinical risk and prolong the gap in the delivery of the service and there was "no guarantee that the outcome would be any different".

Last year, the council was granted a High Court injunction to stop the unit's closure, after which it was announced an alternative provider would be sought to run fertility services, including IVF.

The CCG had said it could not recruit enough staff to keep the unit going.

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