Calls sounded for new hospital in location that 'ticks all the boxes' after Ben Houchen pledge

Jonathan Brash and Glen Hughes outside Hartlepool’s Hospital.
Jonathan Brash and Glen Hughes outside Hartlepool’s Hospital. -Credit:Handout picture from Jonathan Brash

Calls have been sounded to build a new hospital in Hartlepool as the Tees Valley Mayor insisted the public will decide its location.

As reported, Ben Houchen has pledged to build a new hospital to replace the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton and is planning a public consultation to determine where it should go. Following his announcement, a petition was launched, calling for Hartlepool to get its "its fair share" with a new building on the existing hospital site on the town's Holdforth Road.

Glen Hughes, of Fighting 4 Hartlepool Hospital, has joined forces with Labour parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool Jonathan Brash in the campaign with the pair sending a joint letter to Lord Houchen. Mr Hughes said: "Holdforth Road has the services, the land and the infrastructure already in place and, crucially, it is already owned by the NHS Trust."

The pair have cited several reasons why the site is right, including adequate land availability, robust existing infrastructure and accessibility via the new Elwick bypass. Cllr Brash said: "There’s been a lot of speculation as to whether Mayor Houchen can deliver on his pledge, but if there is to be a new hospital then Holdforth Road ticks all the boxes.

"It would ensure balanced hospital provision across the region. It’s a no brainer - build it here!”

In their letter, they also said, if a new hospital ended up being built outside of Hartlepool, "balanced investment across the region" must be made"that guarantees Hartlepool gets its fair share and the return of critical services like A&E." Mr Hughes said: "At the end of the day, this is about fairness.

"I think people are pretty fed up with services disappearing and it's about time some of them came back. So, if there is going to be this massive investment somewhere else, Hartlepool needs to get its fair share and its services back."

In response to the campaigners' comments, Lord Houchen said he would "work with anyone" to deliver a new hospital but said the location should be decided via extensive consultation with the public while discussions with the NHS Trust were necessary to understand its needs. “Over the coming weeks I have numerous meetings to try and move things forward," he said.

"Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’ll take time to get it right.” He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it would "ideally" be located at the current site in Hardwick, Stockton, but added: "The initial understanding is it's looking extremely unlikely from a logistical point of view".

He said the aim is to get spades in the ground before the end of his third term as mayor. A Labour source said the promise to build a new hospital was one the Conservative mayor could not keep, while Lord Houchen responded by accusing the party of pushing against the need for a new building.

He admitted he had no control over health services but said he previously made good of other pledges and building a new hospital "doesn't seem to me to be that difficult". The Department of Health and Social Care said previously it was "important to note" that the mayor does not have the relevant powers to build a new hospital.

Infrastructure needs are determined by local health system planners across the 42 Integrated Care Systems in collaboration with NHS England and future capital budget limits would be set at the next spending review, they said.

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