Stockport NHS FT - which runs Stepping Hill Hospital in the town - announced it will be bidding for Stockport to have one of the 40 new hospitals, being built as part of the £3.7bn government programme.
The New Hospitals Programme aims to build the new hospitals by 2030, and has already announced 32 new build projects. It is now looking for a further eight projects, and Stockport is hoping to be one of them.
If the bid is successful, it is expected to help radically transform healthcare services in Stockport and improve the health of Stockport residents.
Karen James, OBE, Chief Executive of Stockport NHS FT, said: “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.
“Stepping Hill Hospital is an ageing hospital that was not designed to deliver modern acute services and we are also facing a £95m maintenance bill. 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.”
While the final design will influence the cost of any new build, it is estimated that the government would need to invest around £500m in the creation of a new hospital for the people of Stockport and surrounding areas.
With no room on the existing site to build a new hospital, the trust has been working with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council to identify possible alternative sites as part of their shared priority of improving the health of Stockport residents.
“We are looking at every opportunity to improve the lives of our residents and the quality of health care provision in Stockport."
They are currently looking at an area of the town centre that incorporates the Heaton Lane multi-storey car park and former Debenhams store.
Ms James said: “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.
“The proposed town centre site is close to key transport hubs and would also allow us, as a major employer in the town, to play our part in the exciting regeneration of Stockport.”
Although there are a number of NHS organisations across the country also bidding to be part of the New Hospitals Programme, it is hoped that Stockport’s plan will stand out due to the town centre site which would tie into the government’s levelling up agenda.
Cllr Elise Wilson, Leader of Stockport Council, said: ““Stockport is changing. We are a Borough with a big heart and big ambition.
“We are looking at every opportunity to improve the lives of our residents and the quality of health care provision in Stockport.
“We are proud to be working with the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust to put forward an ambitious bid to develop new state-of-the-art hospital facilities, along with improved connectivity, in and around our town centre.”
As part of the ambitious plans, the trust will work with the Council to ensure that there will be a number of services based in the community, including some at Stepping Hill Hospital to ensure health care is accessible for all Stockport residents.
Andrea Green, Accountable Officer of Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s great to see this proposal which has the ambition to help create 21st century health care by combining great hospital care with the latest technology connecting health and care services across our local communities.
“We have seen during the pandemic that this new hospital is desperately needed and it will mean we can include world class infection prevention and controls in the proposed design alongside facilities that staff and those who need the service can be proud of.
“Getting everyone involved if this first proposal gets through will be key, as we want to build a future everybody in Stockport can be proud of.”
Ms James added: “Securing the funding and then designing and building a new hospital is not a quick process. It could take seven to eight years before we open a new state-of-the-art building, but a new hospital is very much part of our medium to long term strategy for the future of local health and care in Stockport and surrounding areas.
“However, as we work on those innovative plans we will continue to invest what funds we have available to maintain Stepping Hill Hospital so it can continue to provide safe care for local people. This includes pushing on with our £30.6m plan for the development of a new emergency care campus to cope with the year-on-year rising demand for emergency care.”
Public support for the proposed new hospital plan will be crucial to a successful bid to the New Hospitals Programme, so the trust has launched a campaign to gather and encourage that support.
Information about the new hospital plans, together with details about how people can ask questions about the proposal and also show their support for a new Stockport hospital will be made available on the website at a later date.