£298m on table for new hospital

HOSPITAL bosses have found two potential investors willing to fund a £298m replacement hospital for Hartlepool at Wynyard.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is trying to secure funding from major pension schemes for the hospital.

It had previously hoped to secure the funding through Private Finance Initiative but the Government is reviewing PFIs after some hospitals found themselves unable to pay back the money.

Banks are also no longer willing to lend large sums of money over long periods of time following the banking crisis.

Trust chiefs said they cannot wait for the outcome of the Government review as they strive for an opening date of 2017.

Kevin Oxley, commercial director for the trust, said they had found two pension fund schemes willing to fund 100 per cent of the £298m hospital.

A new outline business case is currently with the Trust’s regulators Monitor, which has yet to give its verdict on the funding case.

Mr Oxley said: “They are major pension fund holders for public and private sector schemes and industry.

“They are prepared to put 100 per cent funding towards it.

“It is imperative for us to get on with the hospital.”

The trust is anxious not to find itself in the same situation as Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust, which is £44m behind on its PFI repayments.

Paul Garvin, chairman of the hospital trust, added: “We as a board have looked very carefully at the affordability because, unlike Peterborough hospital, we don’t want to get ourselves in a financial hole and commit our local community to a scheme that’s unaffordable.

“With all the work we have put in a new hospital is more sustainable than not having a new hospital and presents a better opportunity for members of our community and that’s what we are about.”

Monitor is due to give their assessment of the scheme early next month and it will then go to the trust board for debate.

Mr Oxley added they hope to put the scheme out to tender to the whole of Europe in September.

Building work at Wynyard is hoped to start early in 2014, and open its doors to patients in March 2017.