Friarage consultation extended due to election

A consultation exercise over controversial changes at the Friarage Hospital has been extended by about a month, it has been announced.

Due to the restrictions placed on public bodies in the run-up to a general election, including communication activities, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group said it had made a number of modifications to the consultation over urgent treatment at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

The move comes two weeks after cross-party councillors in Richmondshire backed a move to press NHS bosses to maintain the opening hours of a key medical service at Northallerton.

Richmondshire District councillors overwhelmingly voted in favour of retaining the 24-hour seven days a week Urgent Treatment Centre at the Friarage Hospital as the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tees NHS Trust consult over its future.

A meeting of the council heard numerous members condemn the alternative option of the centre’s hours being reduced to 16 a day as “unpalatable” or “unacceptable”.

Health chiefs have warned despite the hospital’s accident and emergency department being replaced with the Urgent Treatment Centre earlier this year shortfalls in key staff could still affect the provision of care for local people even after changes are put in place.

North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee has previously said it was content with the CCG’s consultation arrangements.

The CCG said while consultation would continue, the public events in Masham on November 29 and in Northallerton on December 2 to explain the changes and hear residents’ views would be cancelled as the CCG was unable to publicise the events further.

It emphasised events at Northallerton on November 11, Leyburn on November 15, Catterick Garrison on November 18, Thirsk on November 22 and Hawes on November 25 would still go ahead, but would not include a question and answer section. The CCG said those attending were still welcome to ask questions on a one-to-one basis with the advisors and senior clinicians present.

The consultation period, which was due to finish on December 6, will be extended into January to allow extra public event dates to be added.