Commercial PhotographyCOUNCILLORS are calling on health authorities to bring forward an urgent plan to build a new, world-class hospital in Stockton-on-Tees.

Stockton Council Leader, Bob Cook, and Chair of its Health and Wellbeing Board, Jim Beall, say a “deliverable plan with clear timescales” is “desperately needed.”

In October, the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust shelved plans to build a new hospital in Wynyard.

Councillor Cook said: “It is obvious that the Wynyard plan is dead in the water yet we are still to hear if there is any form of Plan B. It is simply unacceptable that we have had to endure such a prolonged period of uncertainty and indecision.

“Stockton Council serves 195,000 residents and we believe every single one of them deserves access to a new, world-class hospital within the Borough.

“We do not want to see a lowering of sights towards the refurbishment of the dated North Tees hospital while other parts of the country benefit from brand new facilities designed and built to deliver state-of-the-art healthcare in the 21st century.

“The need for such facilities was established in the clinically-backed ‘momentum: pathways to healthcare’ programme and it has not gone away.

“Reassurance in the shape of a deliverable plan for a new hospital in Stockton-on-Tees, and with clear timescales, is desperately needed. We are calling on the North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust to provide one as a matter of urgency.”

Councillor Jim Beall added: “Ours is an area with some of the worst health inequalities in the country and the fear is that any further indecision will only see those inequalities widen.

“Since the Council took on public health responsibilities we have made encouraging progress in tackling health issues like cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, weight management, alcohol-related conditions and fuel poverty.

“We are seeing strong take-up of NHS Health Checks and lung checks, particularly in our most deprived areas, and this is helping with early diagnosis of a range of conditions.

“Chronic liver disease death rates are falling and childhood obesity rates are now below the national average. We have contributed funding to a project to make more than 850 of our most fuel-poor households more energy efficient.

“These are significant strides, which makes the current situation especially frustrating. We know there is still much work to do and if we are to build on this promising foundation we need to support and complement service delivery with real investment in top quality hospital and community-based health facilities.”