AXE FOR NEW HOSPITAL IS “CRUEL AND UNNECESSARY” –BURNHAM

Local people across the Tees Valley and South Durham have reacted with anger at the decision of the Tory Lib Dem coalition government to cancel a £450m plan to build a new hospital. The new facility, to be built at Wynyard, near Stockton would have transformed NHS services for the people of Hartlepool, Stockton and the South of County Durham.

The announcement came despite assurances from local Tories that the project would be safe under a Tory government.

Reacting to the announcement, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham MP said;

"This scheme is a vital part of building a modern NHS for the people of the North East. It would have saved the NHS millions in reduced running costs. That's why it passed the necessary value-for-money tests and it is simply untrue to suggest otherwise.

"This is a cruel and unnecessary cut to make. It is a bitter blow to patients and staff in the region and who will now be left with old and outdated facilities.

"This shows that Labour was right to warn that the Tories would impose cuts in the North East. But I don't think we could ever have envisaged that the Lib Dems would do their dirty work for them. The Lib Dems have hit a new low today and are now indistinguishable from the Tories."

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North said;

“We heard from David Cameron during the election campaign that the North East stood to suffer most from the spending cuts and today his Government has fulfilled that promise by axing the hospital planned to serve our communities.  Time and again the Prime Minister said the NHS would be protected by the Conservatives but that was clearly far from the truth.

“Yet again the North East has proved an easy target for a Tory Government this time aided and abetted by their Liberal Democrat colleagues.

“We have seen tremendous progress in addressing health inequalities in our area over the last 13 years and the new hospital, with the latest in technologies and facilities would have helped close the gap even further.

“The hospital plans were approved not just by the Department of Health and the Treasury but by Monitor, the health regulator and were considered excellent value for money.  The North Tees and Hartlepool Foundation Trust have worked and planned for five years for the hospital and now face difficult choices over the future of the two hospitals.  There must be a huge question mark over whether or not they can sustain two hospitals and maintain the level of services our local people have come to expect.  We have seen the axe wielded but without any indication of how health services will be supported in our area."

“I believe we need a wide ranging campaign to put pressure on the new Government to change this decision and give our doctors and nurses the kind of facilities in which they can deliver world class health care.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

Ian Galletley, Conservative candidate for Stockton North, said: “If I am elected I will be a backbench MP and cannot guarantee something that may not even be proposed.
Nothing has been said to give me cause for any doubt that the Wynyard hospital will happen. The NHS is our number one national priority.
The NHS will be safer under the Conservatives than in the very unlikely event of another Labour government.”
Northern Echo, 4 May 2010, http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8134251.___No_guarantee_of_new_hospital_with_change_of_government___/