Following the announcement by the Board of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust that a decision has been taken to pause development work on the proposed new hospital at Wynyard, Alex Cunningham has pressed the Health Secretary to confirm that funding for the facility will be approved.
The Stockton North MP is a long-term advocate of the proposed new hospital but, despite support from other Labour MPs in the region, the Board felt that the complexities of the approval process have been intensified by the lack of high-level political support from the Government. With a final decision appearing unlikely before the end of this parliament, a decision was taken to pause further development work.
Speaking during an Urgent Question in Parliament on the Five Year Forward View of the NHS, Alex asked:
“The growing funding gap over the next five years is a real cause for concern. Can the Secretary of State tell me whether, after five years of changing plans, scrutiny and prevarication, we will finally get approval from his Department and the Treasury for the new North Tees and Hartlepool hospital, or will I have to wait for [Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham] to approve it after the election?”
Responding, the Health Secretary clarified that he has met with the Chief Executive of the Trust and confirmed that his Department is processing the proposals as fast as is possible, though offered no indication of the timeframe involved.
Speaking after the Urgent Question, Alex said:
“After many years of planning and reviews, it beggars belief that the proposals for the new hospital are no nearer to gaining the final approval that will deliver a world class facility to the region and help to tackle the health inequalities that remain in our area and are amongst the worst in the country.
“Recent figures indicate that the Stockton Borough ranks 100th out of 150 for premature deaths, with 395 per 100,000. This places it in the “worst” category. Hartlepool, at 444 per 100,000, fares even worse. Yet the delays experienced in achieving this new facility demonstrate perfectly how we continue to see resources and investment moving away from areas of greatest need.
“While larger and more expensive facilities have been approved elsewhere, no-one in Government is speaking up for our people who continue to lose out. However, I take solace from hearing the Secretary of State’s confirmation that the proposal has not been shelved, contrary to claims made by the Member for Stockton South, and look forward to a Labour administration getting the plans back on track.
“I acknowledge that concerns around the proposals do exist, particularly in relation to transport. But I know that detailed plans are in place to address these, and they should not be allowed to further delay much needed progress towards delivering world class healthcare facilities in Teesside.”