The area’s MPs say a health minister is on board with their campaign for £20 million of investment in healthcare in the north of the county.
Andy Sawford, Philip Hollobone and Peter Bone want the money to make vital improvements to Kettering General Hospital.
The MPs, who were joined by representatives of NHS England, the local clinical commissioning groups and the hospital, are also demanding funds for urgent care centres in Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough.
They met minister Dan Poulter in Whitehall on Wednesday, and said the meeting had been positive, adding that they hoped the bid would be approved by health service regulator Monitor, the Department of Health and the Treasury within 12 months.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Hollobone said: “The meeting was very encouraging.
“Dr Poulter said that the joint bid by the hospital and local GPs was very compelling and in principle he was highly supportive. He’s pledged to do his best to make sure that the case advanced by the hospital goes through the processes as quickly as possible in order to get the investment into our local A&E that everyone recognises that we need.”
Mr Sawford added: “We hope the minister will see that we are working together politically, but also that our local GPs are working with the hospital too, and that we’ve got a united case.
“The minister said he was favourably disposed to our bid, so now we have just got to put the business case together and get the Treasury to approve it, but we are very hopeful today.”
And Mr Bone said: “The great advantage of the meeting with the minister today was we got his support for the scheme. We’ve got clinicians signed up, the hospital signed up, the three local MPs signed up and the public signed up to it.
“Now we have got the minister to sign up to it. It’s not going to be a case of if it’s going to happen, it’s now when it’s going to happen.”
He said funding would mean many of his constituents would not have to travel to Kettering for treatment, and added: “All the emphasis must be on making sure that all the work is done, the bureaucracy is cut through, so we can get this expanded A&E in Kettering and we can get the urgent care centres in Corby, Kettering and, more importantly from my point of view, at the Isebrook in Wellingborough.”
Dr Jane Halpin, area director of NHS England, said: “Communities in Kettering and Corby have, for quite a long period of time, had a poorer experience than we would wish them to. It’s reaching a point where the very small and poorly laid out facility at Kettering General Hospital for emergency care is becoming a barrier for further progress.”
She also said the MPs’ cross-party campaign should be praised, saying: “This is an unusually integrated and cooperative approach. I’ve not seen quite that commonality of approach before. It’s commendable for the local MPs – they should get credit for it.”
Fiona Wise, interim chief executive of Kettering General Hospital, added: “I thought the meeting was very positive. The minister was very pleased to see us all there together and we got a useful steer on the process to follow.”
It could be a year before the bid wins final approval from health care regulators, the Department of Health and the Treasury.