HEALTH chiefs have confirmed that work to refurbish a district hospital into a primary care centre has been paused.

The £4m plans for the Guisborough Hospital site have been delayed as the local clinical commissioning group considers the range of services it wishes to deliver within the area.

A spokesman for the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for funding medical services in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, said: “In light of the CCG’s current financial position and recent placement in special measures we need to consider all of our plans and proposals for services including the locations from which they are delivered.”

Last month it emerged officials from NHS England were to take over the running of the CCG which is £8m in the red.

But the spokesman said despite this the planned redevelopment of the Guisborough Hospital site, in Church Lane, Guisborough “remained unchanged”.

He said: “There have been delays in progressing the development as we continue to work with partners in agreeing the range of services to be delivered within Redcar and East Cleveland.”

Craig Blair, the CCG’s director of strategic planning and performance, said: ‘The priority has always been to protect and promote frontline services.

“In order to do this we will ensure they are delivered in the most appropriate location to meet the needs of the population and within our available budget.

“The CCG are continuing to work closely with all of our partners and we will be engaging with local people and stakeholders whilst we consider our plans.”

MPs including Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald and Redcar MP Anna Turley have expressed concerns about the CCG’s position.

Strict financial targets are likely to be imposed centrally on the organisation in order to balance the books, which has led to fears of longer waiting times and cancelled medical appointments.

Lauren Dingsdale, Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said: “The announcement that work has stopped on the refurbishment of Guisborough Hospital is very disappointing news.

“Local provision of NHS services is crucially important and residents were promised that existing community and outpatient clinics would continue to be provided in the refurbished centre.

“Whilst I appreciate that the South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group recently going into special measures has complicated matters, this must serve as a wake-up call. The NHS has been starved of investment over several years now, at the same time as it is has faced rising demand and rising costs of treatment.

“Recent un-costed funding announcements simply do not go far enough to rectify the damage being done to our local health services.”