Former NHS watchdog chairman backs calls for end to Friarage A&E legal action

The former chairman of an influential health watchdog has backed a call by an NHS boss for campaigners to abandon legal action over the closure of an accident and emergency unit.

Councillor Jim Clark, who has battled to retain key hospital services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton for more than a decade, said he believed the time and energy of the Save The Friarage Hospital campaigners would be better spent on shaping a public consultation over future services at the infirmary.

Cllr Clark made the comments days after Richmond MP Rishi Sunak published an independent report which concluded South Tees NHS Trust has made a strong case to downgrade provision.

Last month the trust’s medical director, Dr Adrian Clements, told North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee, campaigners to drop their battle as it was costing an “awful lot of money”.

“The change has actually improved some of our patient pathways, bringing in consultants into the patient pathway as early as possible clearly helps care,” he said.

However, the campaign group said it would continue with its judicial review action.

In a statement it said: “Since the South Tees Trust took over the hospital in 2002, the people of Northallerton and the wider area have faced 17 years of cuts to the Friarage Hospital.

“Enough is enough – we will continue to fight for our services, our hospital and ultimately our lives.”

Former scrutiny of health committee chairman Cllr Clark said: “I think the campaigners would be better served putting their efforts on helping shape what services will look like at the Friarage in the future.

“The consultation should be treated an opportunity, and if people don’t get what they consider is required, that is when the scrutiny of health would pick it up.”

1 Comment

  1. This NHS Trust has failed to properly consider the adverse effect of focusing its efforts on its Middlesbrough hospital without correctly thinking about how people living elsewhere in this large area can get to that hospital which is geographically inconveniently located at the eastern end of the Trust’s area. There needs to be a general re-think by this trust. In particular it is quite ridiculous that this trust is refusing to allow elderly Richmond people to have specialist checks 11 miles away at Darlington (where there are relevant facilities) and which they can get to by bus, and insisting on them going 30+ miles to Middlesbrough. Clearly something needs to be done to educate this trust that they must manage hospitals in a way that does not inconvenience the public, especially the elderly who will always have difficulty getting to Middlesbrough. As for the views of a former watchdog chairman, they merely indicate that he is out of touch with the avoidable problems that are being caused by the poor trust management and in particular the inability to recognise the reality that in our very large trust area you cannot sensibly priority locate your facilities at one end of that area, given the lack of public transportation. That is basic common sense.

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