COUNCILLORS have slammed a health chief who called on the public to get behind plans to build a £300m hospital at Wynyard.
Chairman of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Paul Garvin described people’s opposition to the plans as “unfortunate” at the trust’s annual general meeting.
Mr Garvin said a single hospital replacing the university hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees, in Stockton, is the only option and that maintaining clinical standards across the two sites in the future would be “impossible”.
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The call came after trust chiefs revealed the new site will not open until at least 2017, two years behind the original planned date, and they have started a process to procure builders as they still bid to secure £300m of private funding.
Mr Garvin’s assertions have been met with anger by Durham County councillors representing villages surrounding Hartlepool, which use both hospitals for a range of healthcare.
Coun Rob Crute, who represents Blackhall, said: “Paul Garvin has a bit of a nerve asking for public support in the face of the Save Our Hospital campaign which has been running for eight years.
“To ask for support now just proves they haven’t been listening.
“From an East Durham point of view, things have never changed – the whole idea of someone telling us it’s clinically safer to travel nearly an hour from where you live to a new hospital is unbelievable.”
Fellow Blackhall councillor Alan Cox added: “Wynyard is at least 15 miles away from us and virtually impossible to get to unless you’ve got a car, it’s really outrageous and a major step backwards.
“Hartlepool is a hospital we have used all our lives, but people in our villages are going to be hit terribly.”
During the annual general meeting, Julie Gallon, the trust’s deputy chief executive, called for people to embrace the “transformational changes”.
She added: “That’s something the public may find difficult, but we need to make changes in our pathways to deliver a new healthcare system which will improve clinical care and patient experience.”