AN MP has warned North-East hospitals could suffer after health chiefs revealed they are exploring plans to merge two hospital trusts to create a "super trust".

Alan Downey, chair of the South Tees Hospitals Trust, previously said bosses were exploring the potential of a merger between North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees NHS Foundation Trust.

But Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said it was "no good having a so called ‘Super Trust’ if our hospitals suffer as a consequence", adding he would seek guarantees from bosses about the future plan for services at the hospital off Holdforth Road in his constituency.

Mr Downey said previously: "An idea to combine services with its counterpart north of the river has been part of talks held by senior managers.’

"My view is that it makes sense in due course for there to be a single Tees Valley Trust, so we are happy to talk about structural change."

Mr Downey insisted talks were at an early stage and that there is no indication on how services may change, or how the combined 14,000 staff could be affected under a merger, but added it was the "consensus opinion" of the South Tees board and its senior leadership team.

Mr Hill said: £There is no doubt that both trusts are in deficit and this will be one of the drivers behind these discussions, as is the importance of avoiding duplication of services by providing mutually complimentary services and creating local centres of excellence for things like cancer care and cardiovascular treatment.

"There are suggestions that a model is being developed around assessment, recovery and diagnostic services being based at North Tees and surgical, specialist and procedural work being carried out at James Cook."

Paul Garvin, chairman at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust, said: "It is far too early to speculate what the likely outcome of the work may be.

"The board continues to hold responsibility for considering the likely impact on patient care arising from any structural review."