HOSPITAL trust bosses have confirmed that plans to build a £300m new facility in Wynyard have been put on hold.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s board has today announced it has decided to delay the development work on the new hospital.
Trust chiefs say they are “unanimously committed” to developing a new hospital to meet the future healthcare needs of the people of Hartlepool, Stockton, Easington and Sedgefield.
But they say the board feels the complexities of the approval process are such that without high-level political support it appears to be unable to get a decision before the end of this Parliament.
Iain Wright, Hartlepool’s MP, tweeted: “NHS Trust suspended Wynyard: not good enough to centralise services at North Tees. Trust must commit to move services back to Hartlepool.”
Chief executive Alan Foster said: “The new hospital is a fundamental part of our integrated health and social care strategy for the 21st Century. When the momentum: pathways to healthcare programme was launched it was one of the three strategic aims of the programme, and it still is.
“However a General Election is now looming and the board recognises that any new government is likely to wish to review all new developments in the light of its own priorities. 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.
“The board will keep this position under active review in the light of national developments and will continue to work closely with local NHS commissioners and with its partners in local government to improve the integration and quality of care for local people.”
In June, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had refused to be drawn over whether a decision will be made on funding for the Wynyard hospital before next year’s General Election.
He said at the time: “I know what’s going on there, but I can’t say any more than to say it is under very close consideration.
“What I will say is that we are very careful about the business case for new hospitals now, because of the disasters we had with PFI under the last government.”
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Alan Foster replied at the time saying a “great deal of work” had been done into the affordability of the hospital.
He added: “More recently we were advised to go for a mixture of private finance and public dividend capital because it maintains the affordability of the scheme.
“We’re frustrated because the need for the hospital is not in question.
“Delays resulted in our doctors telling us we need to centralise services to enable them to meet quality and safety standards, services which, had the decision been made earlier, would have been brought together into a purpose built facility providing an ideal environment for patients.”
The planned Wynyard hospital would have replaced the University Hospitals of Hartlepool and North Tees, in Stockton.
The trust has been seeking £100m of Government money to add to its PFI deal.
This story will be updated as more details are revealed.