Yorkshire health chiefs play down cuts as NHS faces huge shake-up

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HEALTH chiefs yesterday moved to allay fears over the scale of planned cuts in North Yorkshire’s NHS – but failed to rule out downgrading A&E or full maternity services at one hospital.

The Yorkshire Post exclusively revealed last week that hundreds of hospital beds could be axed, forcing patients to travel miles for essential treatment in the biggest-ever shake-up of NHS care in the region.

Leaked proposals showed a “long list” of measures being considered by health chiefs running North Yorkshire’s debt-ridden NHS as they draw up plans to make savings worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Options include closing up to half of hospital beds in the county and axing or radically reshaping community hospitals and minor injury units.

Now NHS bosses have moved to reassure people about the scale of changes in proposals they say are still at an early stage. NHS North Yorkshire and York’s chief executive, Christopher Long, said the trust was not planning to close any district general hospitals or move to a single maternity and paediatric unit for the whole of the county.

He added: “Importantly, there will be a continued provision of A&E and maternity services in Scarborough.”

The statement leaves open the possibility that the A&E unit at Scarborough could no longer be a 24-hour service or that maternity services in the town might not be consultant-led – which would mean births with potential complications taking place elsewhere.

Experts from finance giant KPMG have been commissioned to develop a long-term strategy to help NHS North Yorkshire and York to return to a “stable financial footing”.

A shortlist of options will be drawn up for a meeting of health chiefs next month.

john.roberts@ypn.co.uk

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