Fears raised for future of North Yorkshire’s community hospitals

The Friary Hospital, Richmond.

Fears have again been raised for the future of community hospitals across North Yorkshire.

Health campaigners said they believed severe budgetary pressures facing the NHS in the county could lead to the closure or further downgrading of hospitals, including ones at Whitby, Ripon, Richmond and Malton.

North Yorkshire’s scrutiny of health committee heard the claims following Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) postponing a meeting over a £12m redevelopment of Whitby Hospital due the costs of the project being “higher than anticipated”.

After highlighting concerns over the finances of four of the county’s CCGs, the committee’s chairman, Councillor Jim Clark, said he was “very concerned” the Whitby scheme may not go ahead.

He said: “I fear very much for the future of community hospitals in North Yorkshire.”

The committee’s former chairman, Councillor John Blackie, said hundreds of people had attended meetings over the future of Whitby Hospital in 2006, when it had 100 beds and an operating theatre.

He told members: “I understand it is now down to 20 beds, maybe 15. Since then I am sorry to say the community served by Whitby Hospital has been led up the garden path time and again from the expectation of having either a refurbished hospital or a brand new one.”

Cllr Blackie said the CCG had also clouded the future of the Friary Hospital in Richmond in uncertainty by stating it would consider whether retaining it was the best value for money.

He said: “Other hospitals, such as Malton and Ripon, all have question marks around their future and of course we have lost Thirsk. Community hospitals are hugely valued and seen as essential facilities by those the NHS is here to serve. They are under threat.”

The CCG has said the delay in the Whitby Hospital plan would “enable partners to continue to work closely together so the project can keep moving forward”.

Following numerous claims that the future of the Richmond infirmary had been sealed ahead of the private funding initiative contract on its premises ending in 2023, the CCG emphasised that no decisions have been made over the Friary Hospital.

The CCG stated: “To be clear, we have not given any notice on the lease, nor made any plans for the future of the Friary Hospital.”

After the meeting, the spokeswoman said community hospitals were integral to its future plans, as illustrated by its ongoing efforts to revamp Whitby Hospital.

She said: “The full business case for the Whitby Hospital redevelopment is going to our governing body meeting in January ,which will be recommended for approval.”

1 Comment

  1. This government will not be happy until all their private healthcare companies are running just the most profitable hospitals.

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