Hospital site ‘can be sold for £4m’

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HEALTH bosses expect to make between £3m and £4m from the sale of the University of Hartlepool Hospital site.

A similar sum, or slightly more, is expected from the sale of the town’s sister hospital in Stockton and the combined total will be ploughed into kitting out the proposed £300m new hospital at Wynyard should the state-of-the-art facility be built under a private finance initiative deal.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, which announced this week that it has to find savings of £40m over the next three years, believes that despite an ongoing row over PFI funding it would be cost-effective to run one hospital rather than try to maintain the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

Should the Wynyard plans fail to materialise then services will be centralised in Stockton.

But trust chief executive Alan Foster is convinced Wynyard will go ahead and is looking towards a 2016 opening date.

A final detailed business case is now with the Department of Health and the trust is hoping to get the go-ahead from the Government in the next few months.

The scheme then has to be formally given a deed of safeguard from the Treasury but it is expected that it will go ahead on approval of the current business case.

There would be a “final contracts” stage with the hospital then expected to take two-and-a-half years to build.

A North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “It is expected that the Hartlepool site would be worth between £3m and £4m and that money would go into the budget for the hospital itself, not the budget for building it as that would be through private finance.”

Had the scheme been given Government funding, as previously agreed before the change of Government last year, the money from the sale of the existing hospital sites would have gone back to the Treasury.

As the Wynyard plans will be through a private finance initiative the cash raised from the site sales can stay in the trust’s coffers.

The trust maintains that it would be cost effective to centralise everything at Wynyard rather than try to upgrade and maintain the existing Hartlepool and Stockton sites.

Should Wynyard collapse then services at Hartlepool would be centralised at Stockton and Hartlepool would eventually close.

Trust chief executive Alan Foster said that the majority of people living in the areas covered by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust would prefer a new hospital at Wynyard as opposed to keeping Hartlepool open.

Yesterday the Mail asked the question: “Are you in favour of a new hospital being built at Wynyard or of the Univerisity Hospital of Hartlepool remaining open?”

Lines have now closed and the results will be published soon.

l Votes cast on the internet will be discounted from the final poll result after they were subject to abuse.