Whitby patients face long treks to see specialists

PATIENTS face travelling at least 20 miles for routine appointments with specialists following the axe of hundreds of loss-making NHS clinics at a Yorkshire hospital.

People in parts of Yorkshire are having to travel longer distances for treatment

No deal for a replacement provider of the services affected at Whitby Hospital has been agreed after a contract delivering consultant-led outpatient care ends later this month.

Instead local people will have to travel to Scarborough or further afield to Middlesbrough to see hospital doctors over a range of conditions as efforts continue to find alternative provision in the historic port town.

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The cuts in Whitby are the latest blow to the NHS in North Yorkshire which is mired in a rapidly escalating financial crisis, triggering a summit on the issue next month.

Bosses at York Hospital NHS trust announced in the autumn they were serving notice on their contract to provide outpatient care from Whitby’s hospital after revealing they were losing more than £500,000 a year on the deal.

Officials have been holding talks with the Middlesbrough-based South Tees NHS trust to take over running the services in the town but no agreement has been reached.

Coun Jim Clark, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee, said: “It’s unsatisfactory to travel for these clinics and it’s disappointing that there’s not alternative provision in place,” he said.

He warned the financial position was deteriorating in the county’s NHS and its leaders were being summoned to a meeting of his committee next month to discuss the crisis.

“The situation is not getting better, it’s getting worse and it’s not sustainable,” he said.

In a statement, NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group confirmed some patients from Whitby would need to travel to Scarborough General Hospital or Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital from May 21 “until we have agreed an alternative solution”.

Chief officer Janet Probert said: “For those services currently provided by York and following discussions with local GPs, we are looking at alternative providers to deliver these services at Whitby Hospital.”

Clinics provided by practitioners from other organisations would continue at Whitby and were unaffected by the changes. The problems come as the CCG, which pays for health services in the area, faces formal intervention from regulator NHS England after setting a £4m deficit budget in breach of an instruction to break even in the year ahead.