HOSPITAL bosses say talks with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt about the funding arrangements for the £300m hospital at Wynyard were “positive”.
Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, held private talks with Mr Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, in London, on Wednesday about options which could see the Government part-fund the project.
Health chiefs are remaining tight-lipped on the details of the meeting but say they are currently “exploring all options”, one of which, it is understood, could see the Government help part-fund the project alongside private funding.
Mr Foster said: “I had a positive meeting with Jeremy Hunt.
“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is set to open to patients in 2017, two years later than planned after public funding for the scheme was suddenly withdrawn when the Coalition government came into power.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 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 three letters - signed by chair of the health and wellbeing board, Labour councillor Carl Richardson, council chief executive Dave Stubbs and council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher - was written to show there is support in town for the proposals, which would see the new hospital replace the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees.
Speaking earlier this week, Mr Stubbs said: “The feeling in London is that the more support from local people, the more advantage we get and it belays the feeling what we don’t want it, that we are fighting so hard for the old hospital that we don’t want the new one.”
He added: “We all want a hospital in Hartlepool and we have to make sure that the new hospital is built as soon as possible, within the grounds of Hartlepool.”