Repeated concerns have been raised over whether a new County Durham community hospital will ever be built. 

Health officials have been urged to remove the Shotley Bridge facility from the government’s list of 40 new hospitals it aims to build by 2030, which has reportedly delayed its progress. 

Construction work is yet to start on the new site, on Genesis Way in Consett, despite the plans being approved in March. 

Further uncertainty over the proposed scheme was sparked in October when local health bosses told councillors at Durham County Council that the project is “many millions” over budget.

The Northern Echo: The project is “many millions” over budget, councillors were told. The project is “many millions” over budget, councillors were told. (Image: Handout)

Cllr Kevin Earley, a local member who has campaigned for the new facility for several years, said: “It needs taking out the hospital programme, it should never have been there in the first place. It would have been built by now if it wasn’t included.” 

Shotley Bridge was not among the original list of sites selected for the New Hospital Programme in 2020 - and when NHS England drew up its own list of 55 sites in need of renovation a year earlier, the County Durham site was also not included. 

Cllr Earley added: “I’ve been told it’s a mystery how it ended up there. They need to take it out because it’s not going to work.”

However, the government said Shotley Bridge was added at a later date “following an assessment that showed it met the longstanding criteria for selection including clinical need and backlog maintenance”. 

The Northern Echo: Local MP Richard Holden (left) joined the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the hospital in 2020.Local MP Richard Holden (left) joined the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the hospital in 2020. (Image: Richard Holden MP)Yet cllr Earley warned building costs have been cut but the cost of bills has increased. “This is a death spiral of time and building costs,” he added. 

Councillors were previously told that financial pressures and inflation had delayed the scheme. A definitive timeline for the project could not be provided because of the delays but the local trust is “fully committed” to the new build. 

Richard Morris, Associate Director of Operations, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust stressed that the delay would not impact its clinical services and would retain the plans for 16 inpatient beds. 

But without any spades in the ground yet cllr Earley fears for its future. He said: “Building hospitals is not this hard, it’s not rocket science. It’s difficult, yes, but I am getting very worried about what’s happening.”

The local concerns come as a group of MPs said they have “no confidence” in the government’s programme the insistence the scheme is “on track”. 

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They found the programme has been marked by “slower progress and higher costs than promised” and raised concerns about a “lack of progress” in the programme and urged ministers to show some “tangible results for patients”.

Responding to the report, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering 40 new hospitals by 2030, expected to be backed by over £20 billion of investment and additional clinical projects.

“Three hospitals are open to patients, another two opening shortly, and a further 16 in construction or have early construction activity under way to prepare sites. Our innovative ‘Hospital 2.0’ approach will enable us to build high quality hospitals more quickly.”