HOSPITAL bosses have once again held talks with government officials over funding arrangements for the £300m hospital at Wynyard.
Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, has now held three private meetings in London with officials including Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health.
Mr Foster has described previous talks about funding options - one of which could see the Government part-fund the project – as “positive”.
The meeting with Mr Hunt was held two days after members of Hartlepool’s health and wellbeing board – which includes council and health officials – agreed to write letters supporting plans to build the new site.
The Mail has seen the three letters, which are signed by chair of the health and wellbeing board, Labour councillor Carl Richardson, council chief executive Dave Stubbs and council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.
The letter from Coun Akers-Belcher, addressed to Mr Foster, said: “I am writing to express my support for the proposed development of a new hospital for the people of Hartlepool.
“I believe building a new ‘world class’ hospital in Hartlepool, offering the highest quality clinical services, in a purpose built facility, is very much needed by the people of Hartlepool.
“This is essential and must be a priority if we are to provide better health outcomes for our residents who suffer some of the worst health outcomes in the country and thus narrow the gap on health inequalities across the region as a whole.”
Coun Akers-Belcher added: “A new hospital has been discussed between the council and health commissioners for several years and I believe it is vital that progress is now made on building the new hospital, so the public can enjoy the benefits of a new, accessible state-of-the-art facility
“The best clinical outcomes should be afforded to all residents regardless of their locality.”
Officially, health chiefs will only confirm that they are currently “exploring all options”, one of which, it is understood, could see the Government help part-fund the project alongside private funding.
Speaking last week, Mr Foster said: “We have a further meeting next week and we have every reason to feel optimistic about the progress being made at the moment.”
The new hospital is set to open to patients in 2017, two years later than planned after public funding for the scheme was suddenly withdrawn when the Coalition government came into power.
That led to the Trust looking into a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangement before talks with pension fund companies as the PFI route stalled.
The new hospital replace the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees.