United front to halt NHS overhaul

A UNITED front is being forged between one of the region’s highest profile politicians and an influential health watchdog in a bid to prevent a contentious overhaul of services at a Yorkshire hospital.

Richmond MP William Hague has welcomed the decision by North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee to hold a meeting next week on the future of maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

Mr Hague has written to the committee’s chairman, Coun Jim Clark, calling for the plans to be referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) for a review. The MP has been a vocal critic of the plans to end 24-hour consultant cover for paediatrics at the hospital which would have a knock-on impact on maternity care.

In a letter to Coun Clark, Mr Hague said: “There is a clear gulf between the trust and the clinical commissioning group’s preferred clinical model and the public desire to maintain paediatric and maternity services as they are. A rigorous, independent and thorough analysis by the IRP will help bring some much needed clarity to the issue.“

GPs have been backed by the primary care trust, NHS North Yorkshire and York, over the proposed changes at the hospital, which has one of the smallest maternity units nationally. NHS leaders rejected calls to keep existing consultant-led services amid claims they are not clinically sustainable due to staffing and recruitment issues. But it was announced last month that a consultation on the plans had been postponed as councillors have pledged to refer the issue to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The scrutiny of health committee’s meeting will be held at Northallerton Town Hall at 7pm on Thursday next week.