HOSPITAL campaigners say they are “astounded” at plans to stage monthly car boot sales at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has submitted an application to hold the boot sale in a car park at the Holdforth Road site and at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.
Trust bosses say they are being forced to look at “imaginative ways” to generate income in order to protect frontline services.
Campaigners from the Save Our Hospital group, which aims to keep services at Hartlepool’s hospital, say they are amazed it has come to this.
The unusual move, which could raise up to £5,000 a year, is part of Trust plans to save £40m over a three-year period.
Councillor Geoff Lilley is leader of Putting Hartlepool First and vice-chairman of the Save Our Hospital campaign.
He said: “Who would have thought that a health Trust would have to look at raising income from car boot sales. It is an amazing world.
“To be honest I am really taken aback and astounded by it and it shows how tight and desperate things have become.”
The plans, which have been submitted to the planning department at Stockton Borough Council, are at an early stage.
But it is understood the car boot sales will be held once a month, from 11am on a Sunday.
Health bosses say the area of land planned for the boot sale at Hartlepool’s hospital is next to waste land and is not currently used by visitors, only staff.
They say on a weekend less staff are at work and therefore the car parking areas are not as busy.
A decision is expected by mid-August.
Kevin Oxley, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s commercial director, said: “We have significant savings to make and we are keen to protect frontline jobs and services.
“We are looking at imaginative ways to generate money which would enable us to do this.
“We feel this would be something that would interest local people.”
Julie Gillon, the trust’s deputy chief executive, added: “We launched our £40m challenge in November 2011.
“We met the £16m we needed to save in 2011-12 and we are on track to make the further £16m savings required in 2012-13.
“While this is only the first year of our £40m challenge these indicators are showing us that quality of care and staff satisfaction are not being compromised.
“There have been no compulsory redundancies of frontline clinical staff.”
The savings in 2011-12 were made by reviewing and restructuring the management tier and support services, improving its energy efficiency, cutting down stock levels among other initiatives.