CENTRAL Government will be urged to ‘fast-track’ Warrington’s bid for a new hospital amid fears it will take 15 years before the proposal is even considered.

The town centre area has been identified as the desirable site for the future facility.

The strategic outline case is currently being finalised – it covers matters including affordability, timetable and deliverability.

The purpose of it is to provide the information needed to enable NHS England, the Department of Health and the Treasury to give the green light to the proposal progressing to an outline business case stage.

Simon Constable, chief executive of Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, provided an update during the health scrutiny committee meeting at the Town Hall on Thursday evening.

He hailed the recent ‘historic meeting’ between senior figures and the town’s two new MPs, Tory Andy Carter and Labour’s Charlotte Nichols.

Mr Constable said the town will be asking for ‘hundreds of millions of pounds’ of public money to deliver the new hospital.

But Cllr Tony Williams (LAB – Great Sankey North and Whittle Hall) says he is concerned that it could be the year 2035 before Warrington is ‘even considered’.

“I don’t think Warrington can wait another 15 years to even be considered – and that’s what it looks like to me,” he said.

A motion put forward by Cllr Williams will see the committee write to the town’s MPs to reinforce concerns over the timescale not being ‘acceptable’, while urging them to press health secretary Matt Hancock to ‘push us into a fast-track for finances’ to accelerate the plans.

The committee will also be writing to the secretary of state.

Cllr Williams’ fears over the timeframe were echoed by former council leader Cllr Ian Marks (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall).

He said the timescale is ‘a bit like HS2’ and that he was concerned about a ‘rivalry’ between Warrington and Halton – both part of the same trust – competing for the ‘same pot of money’.

Shortly after, Mr Constable highlighted the importance of ‘linking’ the ‘entirely different’ propositions for Warrington and Halton.

He said: “I think there is a recognition that we need to take things up a gear and the support that we’ve had from the two MPs working together, with the support from the council, is going to be invaluable in making sure we are making the case in a cogent, strategic way, but also very cognisant of the political possibilities and ramifications.”

Mr Constable added that despite not being included in the Government’s plans for ’40 new hospitals’, Warrington is ‘asking to be viewed differently and go up the list’.

But he did not wish to go into how likely that is to happen, when asked.