THE CHAIRWOMAN of a scrutiny committee said she was “gobsmacked” that a major promotional exercise informing East Riding residents of a controversial overhaul of rural health services is not yet underway.
Despite petitions signed by 25,000 people, by the end of next month three minor injuries units will shut at Hornsea, Withernsea and Driffield as new urgent care centres open at Beverley, Bridlington and Goole. The 12-bed Macmillan Wolds Unit at Bridlington, which gives end-of-life care, will also close, while the 12 beds at Withernsea Hospital are now permanently shut, having never reopened after their “temporary” closure last year.
As a concession, hourly slots will be offered to patients with “low-level” injuries at Withernsea and Driffield hospitals and at Hessle.
Coun Victoria Aitken, chair of the East Riding’s health scrutiny sub-committee, asked representatives from East Riding Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and City Health Care Partnership whether they were engaging with the media.
Coun Aitken said they had been told the marketing would happen before any changes and if they had not “it could be a flaw because it takes a long time to filter that kind of information in so my next door neighbour or a mum with a young child understands”. She added: “I’m gobsmacked that weeks away, they haven’t even started.”
Councillors also voiced concerns for Hornsea, where a lack of nursing home provision in the town will mean people leaving a hospital, but still needing a so-called “active recovery” bed will have to go to Bridlington - 14 miles away - or Beverley - 13 miles.
Coun Helen Green said if there was not a nursing home in Hornsea, adding: “Why not keep the perfectly adequate hospital?”
And Coun Barbara Jefferson said they had been trying to tell the CCG for two-and-a-half years that there weren’t the beds needed in Hornsea, but had been reassured everything would be “fine”.
She said: “Hornsea residents were assured that they would be catered for with step down beds in Hornsea or in the area and there is nothing. People will be expected to go to Bridlington or Beverley – people have been absolutely misled.”
Elsewhere, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG has warned of “difficult decisions” to be made as it faces a £3.8m financial deficit by the end of the financial year.
Its latest financial report also warns of an “additional significant financial risk of £3.1m”, which could see the shortfall rise even higher. The deficit is being blamed on issues, including a rise in patients referred for planned care and more emergency hospital admissions. The CCG remains committed to a planned redevelopment of Whitby Hospital and running Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.