Health campaigner urges politicians to back bid to improve University Hospital of Hartlepool
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Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has pledged to deliver a new hospital if he is re-elected in May to replace crumbling buildings at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, which have been labelled not fit for purpose.
But Glen Hughes, of campaign group Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital, says extending and developing the existing University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, should be considered.
He says it would be more cost-effective and geographically sensible with a new access road into Hartlepool due to be built near Elwick.
Glen, 44, a dad of two who lives and works in town, welcomed talk of a new hospital for the area.
Speaking outside the University Hospital of Hartlepool, he said: "It’s got room to grow and expand.
“The services are already here so rather than go for fresh and have to build brand new infrastructure why not utilise a more cost effective approach and use the assets that the trust already own?”
Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital was set up in response to various services being centralised from Hartlepool to North Tees.
They included its consultant-led maternity care in 2008 and A&E department, which closed in August 2011.
But in recent years, Hartlepool has seen significant investment by the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, including £720,000 for a new roof, and a new birthing centre to encourage more expectant mums to give birth in the town.
The hospital is increasing the amount of planned operations it can perform after being awarded surgical hub status.
Just weeks ago work also started on a new a new £1.25million Health and Social Care Academy to train future generations of health workers.
Glen added: “Although services have been coming back, which is fantastic, it’s still not at where it used to be.
“We deserve to have a hospital that we had before.”
He has reached out to politicians for support.
Mayor Houchen said all options are open “and Hartlepool is central to my health plans”.
He said no decisions on location have been decided and is subject to him being re-elected.
Chris McEwan, Labour’s candidate for Tees Valley Mayor, has questioned the role’s remit to deliver such a pledge.