‘Bring them back’ – calls for Hartlepool hospital services to be reinstated after Wynyard plans shelved

SHELVED: An artist's impression of the planned �300m Wynyard development
SHELVED: An artist's impression of the planned �300m Wynyard development

HOSPITAL campaigners and town MP Iain Wright have called for services to be urgently reinstated in Hartlepool after managers dramatically shelved plans for a new £300m development at Wynyard.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Alan Foster said services will not return and even said he could not rule out further services being taken away.

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

The University Hospital of Hartlepool

The trust says it is unlikely to get the go-ahead from the Government, which it tried to get £100m funding from, before next year’s General Election adding to the delays.

The development of the plans has so far cost £6.8m in taxpayers’ cash.

The new hospital at Wynyard had been due to open in 2017 and a number of key services have been transferred from the University Hospital of Hartlepool including A&E and all remaining critical care services.

MP Iain Wright and members of the Save Our Hospital Campaign say the hospital trust must start reinstating services to the Holdforth Road site that had been transferred to North Tees hospital in Stockton.

Alan Foster, chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, says a new hospital for the people of Hartlepool, Stockton, Easington and Sedgefield, is still a key part of its plans.

But Mr Foster told the Mail services would not be moving back to Hartlepool as a result of the announcement.

And he refused to rule out even more services being taken away from the town.

Mr Wright said: “If Wynyard is not going ahead, as the NHS Trust have indicated, then work needs to start immediately on discussions as to which services will be moved back to Hartlepool and how centralisation of health provision and establishment of centres of excellence will ensure a secure future for Hartlepool hospital.”

Hartlepool councillor Geoff Lilley, of the Save Our Hospital group, said the plans had fallen down “like a house of cards” and said hospital trust leaders should resign.

Coun Lilley, of the Putting Hartlepool First party, said: “This is a disaster on a monumental proportion.”

Fellow Save Our Hospital campaigner Keith Fisher said the time for recriminations should came later, adding: “For now, let’s just demand that all our services are returned.”

The new hospital is one of the three main components of the hospital trust’s Momentum programme.

It includes providing non-hospital services closer to people’s homes so only the most serious of cases need to go into hospital.

Public funding for the Wynyard plan was pulled when the coalition Government came into power.

It led to the trust looking into a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) arrangement before talks with pension fund companies as the PFI route stalled.

The latest plan was to fund the hospital through a part-capital funding and part-privately funded, or PF2, scheme, which relied on getting £100m from the Government.

But the trust say they decided to pause work on Wynyard as they struggle to get “high-level political support” before the General Election next May.

Chief Executive Alan Foster said: “As a result, there will inevitably be further delay in the completion of a new hospital. The board has therefore decided to pause the development work on the new hospital.

“I, along with the board of directors, believe it is wise at this time, to ensure that delay does not compromise the major advances that have been made to date, in the quality and efficiency of local services.

“We will therefore engage with our staff and the public to seek views on how to deliver more care closer to home where possible and secure further investment in community-based services, while continuing to centralise services where necessary to maintain and improve the safety and quality of hospital-based provision.”

Public sector workers’ union Unison described the situation as a “fiasco”.

Area organiser Mark Edmundson said: “It’s an absolute fiasco, but we would always move to say that Hartlepool needs its own hospital and accident and emergency department.

“To move everything to Wynyard would mean more travel for everyone from both sides, and there would also be problems with the new hospital’s proximity to the A19 and Coal Lane because of traffic.

“We would urge the trust to look at re-opening services in Hartlepool because the town and its people need those services, there is no doubt about that.”