Reversing the decades of decline of healthcare services in North West Durham has been one of my top priorities since I was elected by you as your Member of Parliament.
Having only been mentioned TWICE in the previous TWENTY YEARS in Parliament before I was elected. In the last three and a bit years it’s been talked about 24 times, and had its own debate after I secured time for that.
Moreover, when I was elected it was clear that we were not going to get even a replacement for the currently community hospital, but a further downgrade with just £20 million on the table from NHS England. We’re now looking at a c.£50 million project with enhanced services across the board and a double of the current bed capacity to 16. And it’s a core part of the hospital building programme.
I recently attended the latest progress meeting of the new community hospital to replace Shotley Bridge Community Hospital and it is fantastic to see so much great work going on with the business case submitted, the project team established and the communications strategy, things are strongly continuing to move in the right direction.
A more detailed forward timeline can be seen in the slides below but we’re looking at:
1.) Site remediation work beginning this year with construction beginning straight after
2.) Completion is estimated in early 2025. During the construction the current Shotley Bridge Community Hospital will remain open.
Also in the latest update was the great news that:
1.) There will be a doubling of capacity from the current 8-bed facility to 16-beds - there is no prospect of the ‘Zero Bed Unit’ that was touted before I became your MP
2.) Chemotherapy services dramatically increase. In fact the new community hospital will essentially become the lead hospital in the trust for delivering this.
3.) Family health services will increase - with colposcopy services coming.
4.) Diagnostics will increase. This will consist of a Mobile CT/MRI scanner AND an increase in echocardiogram provision
5.) Urgent Treatment Centre will be not only maintained but expanded with two further UTC rooms to boost capacity
On top of this County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust are ensuring
1.) T-Levels (the new advanced vocational qualification that’s of A-Level standard) will be available alongside New College Durham for staff
2.) Local builders and suppliers will be used as far as practicable in the construction
I want to do all I can to ensure that this is delivered by then at least, because I know how vital this development is to our local towns and villages.
It is great to see the local NHS are reaching out in this proactive way but if you have any queries, please either get in touch with myself via https://www.richardholden.org.uk/contact or the dedicated Shotley Bridge email address which is email@example.com
Finally, for a long time people said this would never happen and that services in our community would continue to decline. I’m determined to level up our local services and will continue to campaign to this end for every day that I am your MP.