MOMENTUM is building on proposals for a 'desperately needed' new hospital in Warrington – with a review over the 'most feasible' sites to take place next month.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, discussed the plans during Thursday's health overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

She told members there is an 'opportunity to make history' in the town and leave a 'legacy'.

"It is good that we started somewhere and started building the momentum, thinking and conversation to take some positive, pragmatic steps and making what is an idea a reality," she said.

Although discussions are at an early stage, a new 'state of the art' site would have the potential to feature a wellness centre and conference facility.

With work ongoing to identify a list of potential locations, Ms Pickup confirmed there will be a full capacity and demand review for 'in and out of hospital services', commissioned by the health and wellbeing board.

And a workshop to review the 'most feasible' sites is due to take place on May 9, after which, 'a dialogue with the public' will commence.

Cllr Tony Williams highlighted the urgency of the issue at the Town Hall meeting.

He said: "We desperately need a new hospital in Warrington.

"It is painful, for me, that it has taken this long to get a conversation about a much-needed facility.

"I think at this next meeting there should be some politics there to make sure it does not get kicked into the long grass, or put on the back-burner.

"Identifying resources to take this forward, I think, will be a political decision."

Ms Pickup said she was 'happy' to propose having one of the committee members at the workshop to her colleagues.

Committee chair Cllr Rebecca Knowles noted the 'keen interest' around the table.

She said: "We want to follow this closely and really start to see this take shape."

Part of the current hospital's estate, on Lovely Lane, is more than 100 years old, with essential maintenance costing around £2 million a year.