Row over plans for ‘health village’ on land at Hartlepool’s hospital site

The proposed land intended to be the site of the Health Village next to Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID
The proposed land intended to be the site of the Health Village next to Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

A row has broken out between Hartlepool’s Labour Party and the town’s hospice leaders over a proposed health village on hospital land.

Housing provider Thirteen and Alice House Hospice are working together on proposals for 73 bungalows and 18 assisted living apartments for the over 55s on eight acres of land next to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Health Village plans.

Health Village plans.

Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has passed an emergency motion objecting to any homes being built on hospital land after the hospice advertised for nursing staff in connection with the health village.

They say the land should only be used for health and social care purposes and to boost facilities at the hospital.

Tracy Woodall, chief executive of Alice House Hospice, says that is exactly what the proposed development aims to do.

Labour’s motion reads: “Any development or dwelling on land occupied by the University Hospital of Hartlepool site, intended for any purpose other than health and social care provision, damages the potential for greater healthcare provision in Hartlepool and places at risk our current hospital services.”

Tracy Woodall looking at the Health Village plans during a consultation event, held at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

Tracy Woodall looking at the Health Village plans during a consultation event, held at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

Anth Frain, secretary of Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party added: “We feel it’s a slippery slope as once you start down that line you don’t know where it will end.”

Ms Woodall said the hospice is ‘saddened’ at Labour’s stance and said the advert for staff was part of its strategy for how services may develop over the next few years of which the health village is only a small part.

Ms Woodall previously described the plans as “a truly unique opportunity” for somewhere people can stay all of their lives with support on their doorstep.

The development was reduced from 106 homes after initial feedback.

Tracy Woodall attending the Health Village consultation event, held at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

Tracy Woodall attending the Health Village consultation event, held at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

A planning application has not yet been submitted.

Thirteen said: “The views of local people are important to us during the consultation period.”

Politics brought into row:

Tracy Woodall hit back at numerous parts of Hartlepool Constituency Labour Party’s (CLP) motion.

The Health Village consultation event underway at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

The Health Village consultation event underway at Alice House Hospice, Wells Avenue. Picture by FRANK REID

She said the health village will improve access to services for some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in the community and support faster access and discharge from hospital by closer working.

Ms Woodall stressed neither she nor the hospice have any affiliations with any group of individual, including political.

She said: “Our primary and only purpose is to support the people of Hartlepool with their Health and Social Care needs, we have no concern regarding the politics of the acute trust, CCG or Local Authority and I firmly believe that the Hospice has a role to play in developing new models of care in line with Accountable Care Organisations and Clinical Vanguards and I work with numerous partners to ensure we contribute to the Health and Social Care agenda that this government has set.

“This requires me to be strategic and forward thinking in my workforce planning.”

Hartlepool CLP says the motion is by ordinary party members and Hartlepool residents, not politicians or councillors.

What they say about the advert:

Labour’s motion refers to the hospice advertising for full-time nursing positions in the proposed health village.

Ms Woodall said: “The advertisement of a post which identifies support for the Health Village is a strategic approach to strengthening our clinical leadership team and the Health Village is a small element of that role if the project develops in the future.

“The Labour representatives are manipulating the advertisements to sound as if we are planning a whole workforce around this future development which we are not.”

The CLP say: “The motion raises concerns in relation to advertised posts within a development that thus far has not received planning permission, has not gone to public consultation, and of which we and the public have been told nothing.

“We do not seek to manipulate anything but have sought to bring this issue to the attention of our party representatives and the general public.”

What they say about surplus land use:

The motion notes national Labour’s opposition to the Naylor Report which advocates hospital trusts sell surplus land and assets to raise money.

Ms Woodall said: “Alice House Hospice accepts no responsibility for the Naylor Report but does agree with the statement that ‘the form of the estate must follow the service strategies evolving through local Sustainability and Transformation Plans – a process that needs acceleration and incentives’.

“Our local STP and the National Five Year Forward plan both assert the need to explore new models of care and fully integrated working partnerships to deliver better outcomes for patients and this is the primary aim for the potential Health Village.”

‘Huge’ demand for bungalows and homes for life:

Labour’s motion says the huge demand in Hartlepool for bungalows and homes for life should be met by developments that are not on hospital land.

It adds the land in question should only be used for health and social care purposes.

Ms Woodall says the statements are contradictory adding: “I struggle to understand why the CLP believe these homes would be unsuitable when the Primary Objectives of the Village are:

1. To provide housing for life, whereby patients and their families are supported to live and die at home with 24-hour support available.

2. To reduce hospital admissions through the integration of professional teams to plan and deliver care in the patient’s home.

3. Reduce social isolation and provide carers with meaningful opportunities for social stimulation and work.

“All of these properties are to support families with health and social care needs otherwise we would not have been involved in the planning of this development.

“Immediately after the public open consultation we invited residents to form part of a working group to identify what our community wanted from such a scheme and this was well attended.

“I find it unimaginable that anyone would refuse our community such an opportunity especially when politicians are supposed to act in the best interests of their communities.”

The CLP said: “There is no contradiction, our motion clearly calls for the development of sufficient bungalows and homes for life within Hartlepool’s numerous other planned housing developments.

“As a CLP we are against the development of residential property on our hospital site – bungalows/homes for life are both suitable and required by those with health needs however they are not in and of themselves built for ‘health and social care purposes’.”

Labour tocampaign against housing on hospital land:

The motion states Hartlepool CLP will actively campaign against any developments on hospital land other than those intended to increase social care provision in the town, and says any Labour representative who supports, campaigns or votes for such developments do so against the party’s wishes.

Ms Woodall says: “I am also concerned at the threatening nature of the statement which seems to be against an organisation which only has the needs of patients and their families at heart, not an ambition to enhance its political profile.”

She added: “Once more I assert that, this Health Village will provide everything that the Labour Party say they will support such as, enhanced health and social care, therefore why the need to hold its party members hostage to the potential of acting against the party if they can see the benefit of such a proposal.

“Is this the way the Labour Party resolves conflict through scaring its members rather than understanding the whole picture and working with us in partnership to gain the best deal for its voters.”

The CLP responded by saying: “There is neither implied nor implicit threat within the CLP motion, nor are any of the resolutions aimed at, or concerned with, the hospice.

“The motion is simply a formal record of policy stating the position of Hartlepool CLP in relation to any future developments on the Hartlepool University Hospital site.

“The motion categorically contains no threats, no scare tactics and does not mandate elected labour representatives – it simply makes the position of our local party membership clear.

“In order to discuss any development the plans must first be made public, we therefore would once again urge the hospice to release any information they have regarding plans/proposals for the site.

“We will not accept or support the development and building of residential properties on hospital land.”