HARTLEPOOL MP Iain Wright has accused the Government of “ignoring” the North East after plans were approved for a new hospital in the Midlands.
The Government has approved plans to build a new £353m acute care hospital near Birmingham using funding from the public and private sectors.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced approval for the Midland Metropolitan Hospital in Smethwick during a visit to meet NHS leaders in the Midlands.
But while that hospital is due to open in 2019, the long-running saga over a planned new hospital at Wynyard shows no signs of coming to an end.
Mr Wright said: “I think this reflects the notion that the North East is not a priority for this Government.
“In many respects they don’t consider us as a pressing part of what they do.
“We were the worst hit on cuts in the whole country, and they are taking far too long to make their mind up on Wynyard.
“All this ongoing uncertainty is not helpful to concerns over the provision of healthcare in our area.”
Hartlepool councillors granted fresh planning permission for the Wynyard project back in February after an initial application lodged back in 2009 lapsed following a series of setbacks.
That move put the ball back in the court of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to find the funding to allow work to start.
If it ever gets the go-ahead, the development will include a 568-bed hospital with an extra 66 day beds, 26 wards and 14 operating theatres.
The trust is waiting for news of a £100m contribution from the Government towards the £272m scheme
The planned Wynyard hospital would replace the University Hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees, in Stockton.
The scheme which has received the green light in the Midlands has striking similarities to the Wynyard plan, with the new facility replacing some existing services at other sites operated by the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, including the accident and emergency departments at City and Sandwell hospitals.
Referring to the project, Mr Osborne said: “This ambitious package will ensure that patients across the West Midlands continue to benefit from access to world-class acute treatment and cutting-edge facilities.
“It is because of the difficult decisions we have taken as a government that we have been able to protect healthcare spending, and announce new facilities like the Midland Metropolitan Hospital.”
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s director of finance Lynne Hodgson said: “The trust’s independent regulator Monitor has completed its affordability assessment of the new hospital.
“Work is ongoing with Department of Health to finalise its analysis of the scheme.
“The Department of Health assessment considers affordability, value for money and the strategic fit for health care services in the Teesside area.
“It is hoped that this assessment will be concluded imminently after which the trust should receive a final decision.”