The council and Stockport NHS Foundation Trust have bid for funds to replace Stepping Hill Hospital with a new town centre medical facility.
Current plans have that facility in an area that includes the Heaton Lane multi-storey car park and former Debenhams store.
“We know that many of our patients, visitors and staff, particularly those living in outlying areas, don’t find it easy to get to Stepping Hill Hospital,” said Karen James, chief executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust. “The proposed town centre site is close to key transport hubs and would allow us, as a major employer in the town, to play our part in the exciting regeneration of Stockport.”
At this point, no new hospital is officially in the works. The Stockport NHS Foundation Trust has only placed its bid for Stockport to get one of the 40 facilities promised under the government’s £3.7bn New Hospitals Programme. Money has already been given out for 32 new-build projects and the programme is actively looking for another eight to sponsor.
Among the 32 new-build hospitals that have received funding are North Manchester General Hospital and Royal Preston and Lancaster Royal Infirmary.
Estimates from Stockport Council, which is working alongside the NHS trust on the bid, report that £500m would be needed from the government to create a state-of-the-art hospital.
That new hospital is very much needed, according to James.
“Stepping Hill Hospital has served the people of Stockport and surrounding areas well since it opened in 1905, but all hospital buildings reach the end of their useful lives,” she said.
“Stepping Hill Hospital is an ageing hospital that was not designed to deliver modern acute services and we are also facing a £40m maintenance bill,” James continued. “But even if we had the funds available to carry out all the work needed, it still would not provide the modern hospital environment patients and staff deserve.”
Stepping Hill won’t be going away overnight. Even if funding is secured, James estimated that it could take seven to eight years before a new hospital would be able to open. During that time the trust plans to continue investing in maintaining Stepping Hill – including continuing its £30.6m plan to develop a new emergency care campus.