MORE doubt has been cast over the prospect of a new hospital at Wynyard after Labour leader Ed Miliband said he could not guarantee his party’s support.
Plans for a £300million state-of-the-art hospital were put on hold by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust until after the General Election – a move blamed on a lack of support from the current Government.
I think what people are fed up with is people making promises before an election and breaking them afterwards. I’m only going to make promises I know I can keep.Ed Miliband
The trust needed to secure £100million of funding from the Department of Health to be able to proceed.
But, in a radio interview, Mr Miliband said he could not guarantee a new hospital would get the go-ahead under a Labour government.
Mr Miliband said: “We’re certainly going to look at that. It is an important issue.”
But he added: “I think what people are fed up with is people making promises before an election and breaking them afterwards. I’m only going to make promises I know I can keep.”
Mr Miliband’s comments appear to go against previous comments by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham who said he felt a moral obligation to support a new hospital at Wynyard.
A new hospital would be a replacement for the Hartlepool and North Tees hospitals.
Hundreds of people attended recent events in Hartlepool by the Save Our Hospital campaign group and the Mail launched our Bring Them Back petition which got 12,000 names.
A petition on the 38 Degrees website calling for the reopening of Hartlepool’s A&E has been supported by 5,462 people.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “The interview provided confirmation if it was needed that Wynyard isn’t going ahead and centralisation of services shouldn’t be the focus of a modern NHS.
“The true priority should be the integration of health and social care and the return of hospital services away from North Tees and back to Hartlepool.”
Keith Fisher, of the Save Our Hospital group, described Mr Miliband’s comments as electioneering.
Mr Fisher said: “We do applaud the efforts and new petition from the Hartlepool Mail to bring our services back but we of Save Our Hospital were always trying to do that regardless.
“It was always debatable whether Wynyard ever was a real intention or a soft step to North Tees but either way it never ever was supported by us.
“All national opinions have recently abandoned centralisation of services and are now agreeing with us ‘ordinary’ people that local is best.”
Following Mr Miliband’s comments about a Wynyard hospital, council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said: “I think the Trust needs to come out and say Wynyard isn’t an option and they have to work with the council and CCG and we have got to look at the return of services to Hartlepool.”
Talks have begun between Hartlepool Borough Council and the clinical commissioning group (CCG) that pays for hospital services to develop a new plan for the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
It follows a meeting last week between a delegation of Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and councillors and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.