CONTRACTS have been signed to build two healthcare developments in north Durham.

Construction work will commence early next month on a £18m mental health hospital in Durham City and a £12m primary care centre in Stanley.

Lanchester Road Hospital will replace adult acute inpatient facilities at the County Hospital, in Durham, and Derwent Clinic, in Shotley Bridge.

It will be built on the Earls House Hospital site on the outskirts of Durham.

The hospital will have 76 beds and is due to be completed in October next year.

It will provide adult mental health and learning disability services and has been designed to provide people with a safe, homely and therapeutic environment.

Martin Barkley, chief executive of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust, said: "A great many people have worked very hard to reach this important stage in the development of Lanchester Road Hospital.

"Staff, service users and carers have all played a major role in helping to design the hospital, and we are now looking forward to seeing this much-needed new facility take shape."

The Stanley Primary Care Centre has been designed to bring together a range of services in one building.

It will include community, children's and young people's services, outpatient and diagnostic clinics and voluntary services.

The contractors are committed to completion by August next year with car parking being completed in December next year.

Both trusts are working with their private finance initiative partner Grosvenor House Group (GHG) as construction work on the new facilities gets under way.

Yasmin Chaudhry, chief executive at County Durham Primary Care Trust (PCT), said: "The PCT is delighted to have completed the negotiations with Grosvenor House Group and to have reached commercial and financial closure.

"The new centre is an exciting scheme for the people of Stanley and for the PCT and we hope it will set the standards for other such schemes in the area."

Peter Copley, managing director of GHG, said: "The closing of these projects is a major milestone on the road to the modernisation of the healthcare infrastructure for the people of Stanley and Durham."