Inquiry into patient care standards at Yorkshire hospital

The Friarage Hospital has been the subject of protests against proposed closure.
The Friarage Hospital has been the subject of protests against proposed closure.
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HEALTH bosses have launched an investigation into the standard of care and safety of seriously ill patients at a Yorkshire hospital.

The inquiry centres on how patients at Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital are cared for when their condition deteriorates.

The Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it “routinely monitors serious incidents” in order to improve safety.

The exact nature of the investigation and what prompted it have not been made public.

Councillors last night called for greater openness, saying “uncertainty” about standards would only add to people’s concerns.

Richmondshire Council leader John Blackie said NHS managers needed to learn to be more open.

“Although we live in an age where the NHS is supposed to be more open, I always find that they go back to a culture that has existed for years. If they can keep things away from the public, they will.”

Councillor Blackie, who is a member of North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said he would ensure the investigation into patient care would be discussed at the committee’s next meeting.

“If care of people (at Friarage) is not as good as it can be, it will cause alarm among communities.

“The hospital does have a wonderful reputation among the very rural communities; it really does have a first class reputation.

“Anything which suggests that reputation is not fully justified will be regarded with great concern to those people who live in these rural areas who have no other choice whatsoever.”

Coun Blackie called on NHS bosses to be more open about what the investigation is about.

“They should be open and frank - that is what public accountability is about. It is a shame they have not learned this.

“If there is an issue, then let us hear what that issue is. The sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better. Hopefully, there is nothing to report.”

A CCG statement said: “The CCG continuously looks to improve patient safety and routinely monitors serious incidents related to patient care. The CCG is working with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to examine in detail how patients are cared for when their condition deteriorates and how continuity of care is assured. This is to ensure improvements are embedded and sustained.

“The CCG has a duty to ensure that its patients are receiving the best possible care wherever they are being looked after. This means checking that the right staff are in the right place, at the right time in all of our healthcare settings and in the wider community. We therefore carry out a range of investigations and monitoring into patient care on an ongoing basis to make sure that care services are safe and sustainable wherever they are delivered. In this particular case, our investigation is about making sure that these services are safe and sustainable in a smaller hospital setting, which the Friarage is.”

The Trust said: “We can confirm that we are working with Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group to look at how patients are cared for when their condition deteriorates and how continuity of care is assured at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.”

It declined to comment further, citing “patient confidentiality”.