A long-awaited public consultation into the future of a North Yorkshire hospital where accident and emergency services were suspended earlier this year is set to be launched on Friday.
Hambleton, Richmondshire & Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), along with representatives from South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, will appear before North Yorkshire county councillors to outline plans for a 12-week consultation over Northallerton’s Friarage Hospital.
Campaigners are urging residents to lobby councillors to “act in their best interests” at tomorrow’s Scrutiny of Health committee meeting.
The trust closed the A&E at the hospital to the most seriously-ill patients earlier this year after problems recruiting enough medics. Safety fears have been raised over the move, which means some patients being diverted to Middlesbrough or Darlington.
Holly Wilkinson, of the Save the Friarage campaign group, said it was “a golden opportunity” for people to make their feelings known.
She said: “They can also remind councillors that in her message to staff, the outgoing Chief Executive Officer Siobhan McCardle stated that the South Tees NHS Foundation Trust was ‘financially unsustainable’ and for councillors to question the safety of healthcare being provided by the trust.”
The hospital is now an urgent treatment centre treating injuries such as sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs and minor head injuries.
A report commissioned by Richmond MP Rishi Sunak found in May that health bosses had a sound case to make the changes, with just 10 per cent of patients having to go to A&E elsewhere.
A spokesman for the South Tees trust said a sustainable future relied on recruiting the right staff and having the right medical model in place.
He added that financial issues had not influenced the proposed clinical model that the NHS is about to consult on.
He said: “The trust is continuing to work in partnership with NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group to deliver a full public consultation.
“We remain committed to providing a safe, long term and sustainable future for the Friarage Hospital, maintaining high quality care and local access for the majority of the population.”
A CCG spokesman said: "NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be meeting Members of North Yorkshire County Council's Scrutiny of Health Committee on Friday to set out details of the public consultation into services at Friarage Hospital."