Richard has been leading the campaign for a replacement to Shotley Bridge Hospital in Parliament and with ministers since being elected the MP last year and getting a replacement was one of his six election pledges to constituents. Richard was the first ever MP to mention Shotley Bridge during Prime Minister’s Questions and received assurances from both the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary that they would look carefully at a replacement hospital. Richard has held meetings with the Health Secretary, Durham County Council, local stakeholders and the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to discuss proposals for a new hospital, potential sites and timelines for delivery.
As part of his campaign, Richard has now questioned the Department for Health and Social Care about how much NHS Estates charges County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) for Shotley Bridge Hospital. Ed Argar, Minister of State for Health, confirmed that in 2019/20, the annual charge for rent, service charges and management to CDDFT was an eye-watering £1.744 million. This included £577,000 in maintenance and repair costs passed to the Trust. In addition, NHS Property Services incurred £786,000 of landlord capital statutory compliance costs footed by taxpayers as well.
Richard brought the issue up directly to Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of the NHS, during a Public Accounts Committee hearing into capital expenditure in the NHS, the results of which will be published next month. Speaking during the Committee’s investigatory hearings, Richard paid tribute to the NHS both nationally and locally. He invited Sir Simon to North West Durham to see the need for a new hospital and stressed that there is a ‘huge amount of money being spent on patch and repair’, asking Sir Simon what was being done as part of the long-term plan for spending like this. Richard pointed out that the money being spent on repairs has a ‘knock-on effect on the care that the community can then receive.’
Commenting, Richard said 'The figures on repair and maintenance for the current Shotley Bridge hospital of almost £2 million a year just strengthen the case I’ve been making to ministers for a new community hospital. That NHS Property Services itself has to spend almost £800,000 a year just keeping the building compliant is astonishing. We need to stop pouring money down the drain on patch and repair and get a new facility for local people instead. It’s clear that a local community hospital is not just the right thing for our growing community in and around Consett but also in the interest of delivering best value for taxpayers – money should be spent on services for patients and a new community hospital for my constituents, not on maintaining ageing building.'
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