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Wynyard hospital plan back on, says North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust
A PLAN to bulldoze two hospitals and build a new one between two towns is back on.
The project, previously scrapped by the Government, has sparked serious opposition, particularly in Hartlepool – but also in Stockton and south Durham.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust yesterday announced it was starting the process of building a £300m hospital at Wynyard, about half way between Hartlepool and Stockton, which could open in late 2016.
The money would have to be borrowed and paid back with interest, and NHS managers expect to be offered deals from companies investing pension funds.
The trust bought land at Wynyard for £5m years ago, and it is hoped between £20m and £28m could be raised by selling the land where the Hartlepool and Stockton hospitals are located.
Original plans for the new hospital were for a £464m building, but that has been downgraded by removing the fourth floor and by cutting the number of wards.
The trust argues that only one hospital is needed because many medical procedures, such as screening for diabetics, can now be carried out in GPs’ surgeries or in medical centres. Savings can be made in a single, centralised hospital.
Alan Foster, chief executive of the trust, told The Northern Echo that several hundred administrative jobs were likely to be lost in a centralised hospital, but he said front line staff levels would be maintained.
Trust chairman Paul Garvin said an independent review into the plan had been undertaken which pointed out financial challenges.
He said: “Of course, we do know that the financial environment is very difficult and we are mindful of that.”
Keith Fisher, chairman of Save Our Hospital (Hartlepool), pointed out that Hartlepool Borough Council had passed a motion opposing the closure of the town’s hospital.
He said: “There’s been a massive public outcry about this and quite where the trust gets the audacity to ignore their own public, I don’t know.
What would £300m do for the hospitals we’ve already got?”
However, Jim Beall, deputy leader of Stockton Borough Council, welcomed the plan.
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