Doctors leading the consultation on the future of urgent care services at the Friarage Hospital are calling on the public to get involved and have their say before the process comes to an end on Friday.
As part of the consultation led by NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), in partnership with South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 13 public meetings have already been held.
The final meeting is at 10.15am on Friday, January 17 at Northallerton Town Hall, and all are welcome to attend.
In addition to the public meetings, a series of focus groups and street surveys have taken place, to ensure feedback is received from as wide an audience as possible.
More than 1,300 local people have already completed a survey to share their views on proposals for the future of the hospital’s urgent care service.
Anyone wanting to take part can access the survey online via the CCG website.
NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG is consulting on two options for urgent and emergency care.
The first involves replacing A&E with a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) supported by a responsive front-of-house emergency medical service.
This is the current model that was introduced as part of the temporary arrangements brought in at the Friarage Hospital in March 2019 and it deals with approximately 90 per cent of patients who would have previously attended A&E.
The second option would see A&E replaced with a 16-hour Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) that would close between midnight and 8am as the service currently sees on average less than three patients per night.
Campaigners have called for the retention of the A&E to be an option, however NHS bosses say this is not viable.
Regardless of the outcome of the consultation, NHS officials say patients requiring care during the night will always be able to contact the local GP Out of Hours service by telephoning 111.
The Friarage Hospital has had difficulty recruiting critical care anaesthetists for some time, and in in February 2019 the situation became more serious, resulting in urgent temporary changes to A&E, critical care and emergency admissions overnight from March 2019.
Dr Charles Parker, clinical chair of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, said: “We would like to encourage as many people as possible to have their say. Under the new model, more than nine out of ten people will continue to receive healthcare in Northallerton.
“Our aim is to maximise local access to high quality services, and the new Urgent Treatment Centre would provide care for 97 per cent of those that attended A&E last year.
“This service is backed up by the Consultant led admissions unit with daily admissions and has seen a return to the treatment of minor illnesses in children in the local area, which under the previous adults A&E model we couldn’t provide.”
To complete the online survey click here.