An answer on a push to bring a new health facility to the heart of a Teesside High Street is expected very soon.
Talks to bring a new health facility to Stockton were unveiled last year as efforts to overhaul the town’s center with a new urban park edge nearer. Now the Government has announced there will be four more community diagnostic hospitals by the end of May – to deliver extra scans and tests in a bid to make a dent in NHS backlogs.
Both North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust have put in a joint bid for one of these centers – with leaders pushing for Stockton to host the site. Whether Teesside is successful is set to be unveiled in the coming days.
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Stockton has some of the widest health inequalities in the country within its borough boundaries. Nine of Stockton’s 56 wards are in the 10% most deprived in the country with an average healthy male life expectancy gap of 21 years between the most and least deprived areas.
Stockton Council chiefs have a 10 year plan to try and close this chasm through education, employment and better health services. Stockton South MP Matt Vickers has backed a new diagnostic hospital on Stockton High Street – saying he’d met Health Secretary Sajid Javid, health minister Edward Argar and Number 10 officials to push Teesside’s bid forward.
The Conservative said: “Stockton is crying out for more capacity to tackle our NHS backlog and establishing this diagnostic hospital at the heart of Stockton High Street will provide an easily accessible facility to residents and drive additional footfall to the High Street. Our heroic NHS staff also deserve to be working with the best possible equipment and be given every tool at our disposal to help them tackle this concerning backlog.
“It is a sad reality that there is a 20-year difference in life expectancy from one end of Yarm Road to the other. This inequality is unacceptable and I am confident that expanding our capacity for diagnostics and making healthcare more accessible will go a long way in addressing this disparity.”
The bid comes as the 12 month demolition of the Castlegate shopping center begins this week to make way for a riverside park, a new leisure centre, office spaces and a library hub in 2025. Discussion of a health facility between council chiefs and North Tees leaders were also revealed as part of the push last year.
Council leader Cllr Bob Cook said they were “all for” health on the High Street. The Labor chief added: “What we’re trying to create in Stockton is create a wellbeing centre, with leisure and fitness and having trust back office staff on the High Street and a sub-regional diagnostic centre.
“We’ve got “fairer Stockton” (the 10-year plan) – it’s something we’ve been doing over the years and we’ve got a new framework to achieve it. I think it will take more than 10 years because it’s about education and getting children when they’re young to have the best start as well as making their health and fitness good.”
Cllr Cook also pointed to how Stockton’s poorest wards were near the centre. “They’re part of the 10% most deprived wards in the country,” he added.
“Because it would be on the High Street, it would be easy to get to from all parts of the Tees Valley – buses running from Middlesbrough go through Stockton. It won’t take the place of North Tees Hospital but this center would bring things centrally.
“We’re hopeful – the best place for a diagnostic center is Stockton High Street.” The push comes as a wait goes on to see if either North Tees or South Tees bids to be included in eight new hospital sites have been successful.
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