Hospital money go-ahead hopes

An artist's impression of the new hospital
An artist's impression of the new hospital

HOSPITAL chiefs are hoping to get the go-ahead from a health regulator to proceed with plans for an alternative funding route for a new £300m hospital.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust will consult with health watchdog Monitor over whether they can proceed to use private pension funds for the planned Wynyard development.

Monitor officials will visit the trust at the end of next month to look at a detailed financial statement and a decision is expected from them in June.

The case will then be brought back to the trust’s board of directors in July or August in the hope that they can make a decision about the funding.

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Kevin Oxley, the trust’s commercial director, told a board meeting at the University Hospital of Hartlepool yesterday: “Myself and Lynne Hodgson, the new director of finance, are refreshing the outline business case regarding the financial model and affordability.”

He said this would lead to himself and Ms Hodgson being in a position to be able to have a revised outline business case for the board in the summer.

“Monitor are coming in to do an assessment as the foundation trust regulator as they have to sanction any material transactions,” he added.

“Hopefully we can pull together all the relevant regulation of the reviewed outline business case by the end of June with Monitor’s assessment and bring it back to the board in the summer.”

Trust chairman Paul Garvin told the meeting: “In terms of the amount of work that has been involved, it’s been phenomenal.

“I would certainly like to thank all of the finance team and Alan Foster for guiding us along the road so far and the end is in sight, hopefully.”

After the meeting, Mr Oxley told the Hartlepool Mail that 70 per cent of the business case, in terms of the hospital’s design and shape, remain the same.

He added that he was confident that Monitor would approve the plans following their assessment.

“Our indication is that it’s well within our affordability,” he added.

The Mail reported previously that the plans were hit with a delay after it emerged a decision on Government backing was not expected until July at the earliest.

That led to hospital chiefs looking at alternative sources of funding, including pension funds.

Such schemes would not need to be underwritten by the Government.

Mr Oxley told the meeting there had still been no feedback from the Government regarding private finance initiative (PFI) funding.