Independent review is gathering pace

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AN independent review into accident and emergency provision in Hartlepool is gathering pace.

The clinically-led review is being carried out after controversial plans to close the A&E department at the University Hospital of Hartlepool were shelved.

Health bosses had planned to transfer services to the £20m One Life Hartlepool walk-in-centre, in Park Road.

The review is being overseen by the North East Strategic Health Authority in conjunction with Hartlepool Borough Council’s health scrutiny forum.

Town councillors met with health chiefs yesterday and discussions were set to continue today, including site visits to the hospital and walk-in-centre.

A spokesman for NHS North East said: “The findings will be announced and made publicly available in a report during March and we are unable to comment any further until then.”

The proposed closure of A&E by NHS Hartlepool and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust was part of a massive shake-up, including a planned new hospital at Wynyard.

Health chiefs had to go back to the drawing board after the coalition Government scrapped funding plans agreed by the previous Government.

But they are hoping to secure private funding to help with the costs and have the new hospital up and running by 2016 – one to two years later than originally planned.

They have previously told the Mail that they are confident of shaving around £165m from the cost of the original £465m proposals.

The trust was due to put forward its revised business case for the new hospital at a board meeting today.

If approved, advertising for a developer to build the hospital could begin in spring.