No decisions made on future of the Friary Hospital, says NHS boss

The Friary Hospital, Richmond.

No decisions have been made on the future of the Friary Hospital in Richmond, says the head of the NHS body which runs the facility.

The statement comes after district councillors this week said they had launched a campaign to keep the hospital open amid concern it would close within five years.

Despite Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) previously stating the future of the hospital in Richmond was yet to be decided, councillors said at a meeting that evidence to the contrary was mounting.

Councillors heard the GP surgery at the Queens Road private finance initiative building had been told its lease would not be renewed and plans to redevelop that area of the premises had been shelved to await the remainder of the premises becoming vacant.

Councillors also claimed patients who could be treated at the Friary were now being sent to hospitals in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Northallerton, Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle instead.

But the NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said stressed again that no decision had been taken on the building.

Janet Probert, Chief Officer of the CCG said: “There have been some reports in some local media which give factually inaccurate claims regarding the CCG’s position in relation to the future of the Friary Hospital in Richmond.

“I can absolutely confirm – as I have stated recently in public meetings – that no decisions have been made as to the future of the Friary Hospital in Richmond.

“It is indeed fact that the private funding initiative (PFI) contract on the building ends in 2023. What we are doing now is opening up conversations with stakeholders, including Richmondshire District Councillors, as to the future vision of services in Richmond, Catterick and the wider Richmondshire area. We are looking at both the challenges and opportunities.

“I am disappointed that the CCG was not approached to comment on these claims made by some councillors.

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

“In addition, patients are still being cared for at the Friary Hospital as it is a fantastic facility. Patients with greater clinical need are treated at the Friarage Hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital and The James Cook University Hospital – as they have been for some time.

“Some patients with severe dementia are being cared for in the specialist hospital at Bishop Auckland as they also have been previously – but these are in very small numbers.

“It is not our usual pathway for patients to be treated at Barnard Castle. However, on very rare occasions if there are capacity pressures at Darlington Hospital and on agreement with the CCG, a patient may be transferred to Richardson Hospital.

“Should there be any other concerns about these claims; I would urge local residents to contact the CCG directly.”