NHS TRUST chief Alan Foster insists “the majority” of people want to see a new £300m hospital built at Wynyard rather than keeping open the existing site in Hartlepool.
Mr Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, made his claim despite a wave of public protest at the plans.
More than 30,000 people signed a petition by campaigners to keep the Hartlepool site open, a public march through the town attracted huge crowds and hundreds of furious residents attended a public meeting to vent their anger at the closure of the town’s A&E department.
Mr Foster also made the assertion in spite of Hartlepool Borough Council unanimously backing a vote of no confidence in him and fellow trust leaders.
Today the Hartlepool Mail asks the people of Hartlepool and east Durham to answer the following question in our poll.
Are you in favour of a new hospital being built at Wynyard, or would you prefer the University Hospital of Hartlepool remained open?
You can get in touch by phone, text, on our website www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and also on our Facebook page.
See the panel on this page for full details.
We do not expect the results to change the decisions made by the Trust, but want to give a true picture of how our readers really feel about the plans.
This is your chance to have your say.
Keith Fisher, chairman of the Save Our Hospital campaign, challenged Mr Foster in a radio interview about how he could push ahead with the plans to build the new hospital when thousands of people in Hartlepool said they did not want it.
Mr Foster replied: “We actually serve 400,000 people, not 30,000 people.
“Everyone’s got the right to have their say.
“The clinical staff that we employ, the doctors, nurses and senior consultants, have all backed the board despite the vote of no confidence because the board take clinical advice from all our senior teams and they very much want this new hospital because they recognise, as I do, that what we don’t want in the future is second best.”
The new hospital at Wynyard is planned to replace the University hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees in Stockton, which the trust says will improve critical care services and save money.
The trust is hoping to get the go-ahead from the Government in the next few months, and Mr Foster said he was confident it would happen.
Mr Foster added: “The majority of people for the whole area we serve support it.
“Most people supported the consultation which sited the new hospital at Wynyard.
“We’ve got to remember that we’ve got two outdated hospitals which cannot in the 21st century provide the standard of care that we need.
“We’ve got to provide the specialist care that we need in world class facilities, and that means a new site.”
The Mail reported yesterday how the hospital trust has to make £40m savings over the next three years which will see hundreds of job losses and changes to how services are provided.
Mr Foster said that the focus is on providing care in the community and people’s homes for things like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease with only the most serious cases ending up in hospital.
How to vote
TEXT: Simply text HML VOTE followed by a space then the vote letter for your choice (see below), followed by a space and then your name, plus house name or number and postcode (max.160 characters) and send to 61500.
Vote: (H) for Hartlepool or (W) for Wynyard. For example, HML (space) VOTE (space) H or W (space) John Smith 1 TS26 8BX – send to 61500
Texts cost 25p plus standard network rates. This will be charged to your mobile phone bill. Lines close at midnight on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Entries received after the closing date will not be counted but may still be charged.
For terms and conditions, plus details about how we may use your information for marketing and how you can opt-out, see our Fair Collection Notice printed on page 2.
PHONE: Simply call the numbers below and register your vote. For WYNYARD call 0901 890 3870 and for HARTLEPOOL call 0901 890 3871.
Calls cost 25p from a BT Landline. Other networks will vary and calls from mobiles will cost considerably more.
Service Provider: JMedia UK Limited SW4 7BX Tel: 0844 800 1188. Phone lines close at midnight on Thursday, November 3, 2011. Entries received after the closing date will not be counted but may still be charged.
FACEBOOK: Log on to our Facebook page and answer the question in the poll post.
ONLINE: Log on to www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and follow the links to our daily poll.