£35m health centre setback

PLANS to build a new £35m integrated health centre have suffered a major blow after the Government refused to back the plans.

Health bosses are disappointed by the decision by the Department of Health not to approve the integrated health and social care facility, in Billingham.

The new centre, which has been planned by NHS Stockton and Stockton Borough Council, would have included health and social care services, three GPs and a library.

But the Department of Heath refused to allow the partners to sign a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal worth £35m to build the centre on the current site of Billingham Council Offices and Billingham Art Gallery in the town centre.

Ali Wilson, director of health systems development (north) for NHS Tees, said: “We are disappointed the PFI credits will not be available for the scheme.

“It would have provided an opportunity for a unique development that supported regeneration while working with Stockton Borough Council to deliver streamlined health and care services.

“We are however, committed to providing care closer to home as outlined in the Momentum: pathways to healthcare programme and will continue to work closely with partners, including the council, to consider how we will deliver this in Billingham.”

A Department of Health spokesman said the Government realises the potential value of the project but has had to make “hard decisions” to reduce costs.