HEALTH chiefs have called for the public to get more behind their plans to build a new £300m hospital at Wynyard.
Paul Garvin, chairman of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, described people’s opposition to the plans as “unfortunate” at its annual general meeting yesterday.
The plans, which would see the closure of the university hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees in Stockton, have been heavily criticised by Hartlepool residents including campaigners from the Save Our Hospital group.
But Mr Garvin stressed a single hospital at Wynyard is the only option.
He was speaking just two days after the trust announced it had started the process to find a builder and source of funding for the new hospital.
Mr Garvin said: “It’s unfortunate some people are still questioning the trust board and thinking we are pursuing some invested interest in the hospital.
“But on behalf of the board, really there is no option for he trust other than to go ahead, provided we are not going to compromise our long-term sustainability.
“Trying to maintain clinical standards in two hospitals for the future is just impossible.
“If we weren’t able to proceed with the new hospital it would be like death by a thousand cuts.
“We are here to deliver the best services that we can, provide the best services, and the new hospital is the way to do that.”
The new hospital is seen as the final piece in the jigsaw of the Momentum: pathways to healthcare programme.
It is transforming the way people access healthcare with more services being provided in the community and only the most serious patients being treated in hospital.
Julie Gillon, deputy chief executive, called for people to embrace the changes as the trust outlined its plans for the next three years.
She said: “We need to embrace many transformational changes.
“That’s something the public may find difficult, but we need to get the message out that we need to make changes in our pathways to deliver a new healthcare system which will improve clinical care and patient experience.”
Commitments that the trust will focus on over the next three years include increasing the number of health visitors and improving services for dementia sufferers and the growing elderly population.
The trust says its finances are “healthy” with around £35m in the bank.
But it will need to find £16m of savings next year followed by five per cent cuts over the following two years.
Last year the trust had a net surplus of £6.2m.