SHADOW Health Secretary Andy Burnham has given a lifeline to the shelved Wynyard Hospital plans.
The Labour politician made a promise to revive the suspended project if Labour win next year’s General Election.
He said the £272m facility would be “at the front of the queue” if he won back his previous job as Health Secretary.
Mr Burnham, who visited North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust in 2010 to announce that the hospital had been given the go-ahead and would open by 2015, was in the region this week at a health summit organised by the Association of North East Councils.
He said: “I haven’t got the books in front of me, but I feel a moral obligation to the people of this area.
“I promised them a new hospital.
“It would be still at the front of the queue as far as I’m concerned.”
He said both the Department of Health and the Treasury had signed off the project back then as the “highest capital priority”,
“So to be here five years later when it could have been built is hugely frustrating”, added Mr Burnham.
It was announced last week that the hospital plans had been suspended by the trust until after the election over a lack of “high level political support”.
The Coalition Government had decided it was too expensive, and the trust had tried to get partial funding of £100m from the Government, with many delays.
The Department of Health, which the hospital trust had been involved in talks with about funding for the Wynyard scheme, says it will still work with the trust in the future.
Mr Burnham also told the health summit that a greater emphasis on integrated health and social care, including care for more patients in their own homes, was needed.