Hartlepool councillors back new Wynyard hospital

A model of how the proposed hospital might look.
A model of how the proposed hospital might look.

COUNCILLORS have given their backing for the planned new £300m hospital at Wynyard but raised fears over what the alternative would be if it doesn’t go-ahead.

The new hospital, which is still subject to funding approval, would replace the University Hospital of Hartlepool and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

The hour-long debate at full council was sparked by independent councillor Keith Fisher who wanted to know who was for and against the new hospital at Wynyard.

There wasn’t a vote but several members aired their views.

Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher feared in the longer term hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton won’t be there and said the best option was for the new hospital on the outskirts of town because the alternative would be patients and family members travelling even further afield to “Middlesbrough or Newcastle”.

He added: “In the longer term Hartlepool hospital is not going to be sustainable.”

Councillor Jonathan Brash, who refers to himself as independent Labour, said: “I would support a new hospital at Wynyard, I think it is the option that is best for Hartlepool.

“A fully functional hospital at Holdforth Road, I’m afraid no longer seems an option.”

Labour councillor Chris Simmons said: “We deserve the best and we should be fighting for the best and if the best is Wynyard then it should be there.”

Conservative councillor Brenda Loynes said: “I don’t want Hartlepool hospital to close but I want the very best healthcare.”

Independent councillor Cath Hill said: “I dearly want a hospital in Hartlepool but it is not going to happen.”

The new hospital is planned to open in 2017 and hospital bosses are hoping to secure £100m from the Government to help finance the cost.

Putting Hartlepool First councillor, Geoff Lilley, said Wynyard has become an “aspiration”, while Labour councillor Rob Cook said: “It will be at least another four years from the time that they get the finance and that does not appear to be anywhere near.”

Coun Fisher again called for services to be reinstated at the Holdforth Road site adding: “This is very serious but if there is political will then anything is possible.

“Before long they will be saying “you only have 55 beds at Hartlepool, so what are you complaining about?”

Hospital chiefs at the Trust have always stressed that they have not confirmed what would happen if the Wynyard plan does not go-ahead.

Consultation is going well

HOSPITAL bosses say the ongoing consultation into controversial plans to move remaining critical care services out of the University Hospital of Hartlepool is “going well”.

The proposal is to centralise emergency medical and critical care services at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

The plans will cost £2.3m and affect 10,000 patients.

Health chiefs say the changes need to happen because of “significant” concerns and stress while the current service is safe, it is not sustainable to meet rising standards.

Bosses at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust discussed the consultation at a recent board meeting.

Alan Foster, trust chief executive, said: “The consultation has gone well.

“It is fair to say that we have had a wide engagement with the public in Hartlepool, Stockton and parts of East Durham and Sedgefield and it is pleasing to get feedback from the public.

“There are lots of issues still to address.”

Julie Gillon, the trust’s deputy chief executive, said people were beginning to understand the clinical need for change, but said a number of concerns around transport had been raised.

The trust is looking to provide two extra shuttle buses for patients, their families and staff, and has recruited 11 volunteer drivers to transport patients and said they were working on staff car sharing plans.

The plans would see all emergency admissions go to North Tees, four emergency medical wards close at Hartlepool with a total of 135 beds removed and the jobs of around 200 people affected.

And the critical care unit at Hartlepool, which includes two intensive care beds and two high-dependency beds, relocated to add to North Tees’s 12-bed critical care unit.

Hartlepool would become a centre for day case and low-risk operations with an increase in medical rehabilitation beds.

It follows a review by the National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT).

NHS Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG, and the Trust are leading the consultation.

Responses can be sent to: Communication and Engagement, FREEPOST NEA9906, Middlesbrough, TS2 1BR or by email to: mynhstees@nhs.net before the August 11 deadline.