Health secretary to visit town where hospital ward is to shut

Simon Bristow

HEALTH Secretary Andrew Lansley is to visit Bridlington later this year to discuss health services in the town after the Yorkshire Post revealed a ward is to be closed at the resort’s hospital.

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust said it would be closing the 24-bed Thornton Ward at Bridlington Hospital by September because of a staff shortage.

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The ward has already been running at 14-bed capacity because of the shortage, the trust said.

East Yorkshire Tory MP Greg Knight has now met Mr Lansley and invited him to discuss provision of local services with GPs in the town.

As Opposition health spokesman, Mr Lansley visited the hospital two years ago and supported a campaign to retain its services.

Mr Knight urged residents to make their feelings known to doctors before Mr Lansley’s visit.

He said: “Mr Lansley has previously said that the decision to cut services at Bridlington Hospital was ‘not clinically justified’.

“Unfortunately, the cutbacks went ahead under the last Government’s policy.

“However, the new Government is to drop the previous policy of top-down reconfigurations and is to introduce locally-led solutions, where GPs can collectively decide what health services they wish to commission and where from.

“I am delighted that the Minister will be visiting the town later this year. Under this new policy, it will be in the hands of local GPs what services we see being made available at Bridlington Hospital in future.”

He added: “Local residents should tell their own doctor, in no uncertain terms, where they think hospital services for the town should be based.”

The loss of Thornton ward will mean fewer people with conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke patients are treated at Bridlington. They will have to travel to Scarborough, Hull or York.

Campaigner Mick Pilling, who helped organise a protest march of 8,000 residents in 2007 against cutbacks at the hospital, claimed Bridlington was being treated as a poor relation to Scarborough.

Mr Knight has said he wants services to maintained in Bridlington.