THE Labour candidate for the Hartlepool by-election has been accused of being a 'hospital hypocrite' after it emerged he was commissioner of a report that supported the removal of critical care services.

Dr Paul Williams, who was also MP for Stockton South between 2017 and 2019, has been campaigning to bringing services back to the University Hospital of Hartlepool as part of his campaign to be the town’s new MP.

But it has emerged that Dr Williams was a commissioner of a report that decided that services, including critical care, be removed from Hartlepool Hospital – a recommendation which was adopted in full.

Co-chair of the Conservative Party, Amanda Milling, said Dr Paul Williams 'could not be trusted to deliver on NHS priorities for the people of Hartlepool'.

She said: "Despite everything he has said during this campaign, Dr Williams is a hospital hypocrite.

"He was responsible for a report that recommended moving services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool – and they were. These were services best delivered locally and which local people desperately wanted to stay in their local hospital.

"He then has the nerve to bring Labour front benchers up to Hartlepool complaining about a lack of hip replacements, when he was responsible for stopping them in the first place."

Dr Williams visited Hartlepool hospital earlier in the month with Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth.

At the time Mr Ashworth said: "This is a town of about 100,000 people, there are people here sat waiting for hip replacements and knee replacements, there are people - particularly young people - waiting to access mental health care and I think we have got to look at how we both restore services and build the best services for the future."

The report published in September 2013, which cites Dr Williams as Stockton-on Tees locality lead, Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees CCG and governing body member, stated: 'Bringing these services together would affect some other services such as other parts of the medical directorate, pathology, radiology, pharmacy and other support services such as facilities and catering. It would mean that patients with lots of medical problems will not be able to have planned operations like hip replacements at the University Hospital of Hartlepool but we do not expect this would affect very many patients because modern anaesthetics are safer.'

In response Dr Williams said: "This is the Tories trying to blame local doctors, who are trying to help their patients to get good and safe services. The cuts that they made - in 2013 the Tories had just cut the NHS budget year after year and it was an impossible position. And of course they're continuing to cut nurse's pay. We've got record waiting lists in the NHS.

"At that time I was a doctor looking after the interest of my patients doing the only safe thing possible.

"However, subsequent to that what the Tories didn't mention is my track record of bringing services back to Hartlepool hospital, so I then ordered the GPs in the fightback against these cuts. The Tories have closed the A&E back in 2011, Hartlepool was left overnight without any doctor and we worked together with the hospital to open the urgent care centre in 2017, so we're now really proud of. I did the first shifts there and I'm continuing to do shifts there during this election campaign."

Dr Williams was joined by Angela Rayner MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party at Hartlepool College of Further Education this morning, where they met with students and took a tour of the facilities.

Richard Tice, Leader of Reform UK said: “Keir Starmer, Jonathan Ashworth and the Labour Party need to publicly explain why they lied to the people of Hartlepool in claiming that the Tories were responsible for horrific cuts at the University Hospital. When, in fact, the man responsible for the devastating closure of services was none other than the Labour candidate, Dr Paul Williams, who co-authored a report recommending that critical care and other services be taken away from the hospital and moved elsewhere.”

“Only weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition was in Hartlepool lamenting the Conservative Government shutting down the University Hospital in the town, despite the truth being that the man chosen by the Labour Party to fight to represent the town had been instrumental in gutting the local hospital of its services.”

“Hartlepool want an MP that will fight for them tooth and nail, not rip the heart and soul out of a proud town. We’re calling on Dr Paul Williams to withdraw from the upcoming by-election and the Labour NEC make it abundantly clear that they will no longer be endorsing him, we’re also urging the Conservative Party to do the same in calling for Dr Williams to publicly withdraw ahead of the by-election.”

Simon Clarke, Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: "Dr Williams is trying to convince Hartlepool that he's the right man to bring hospital services back - it turns out he was the very man who said they should be removed in the first place.

"As a commissioner and co-author of the very report that led to critical care and hip replacements being taken from Hartlepool Hospital, it is the worst kind of cynicism to claim he's the best man to bring them back.

"Sadly this is the kind of rank hypocrisy Teesside has come to expect from Labour. They have nothing to offer and it shows.

"It's Paul Williams' photo at the top of this report that stands as a true testament to his record in Hartlepool. 

"On May 6, I hope the voters of Hartlepool choose positivity, optimism and a brighter future by electing a Conservative MP."