Overseas doctors targeted to staff the Friarage

Doctors from overseas are being targeted to staff under-threat A&E and critical care services at the Friarage Hospital.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has developed a new recruitment campaign targeting doctors internationally to fill longstanding vacancies for anaesthetists and emergency/critical care specialist doctors.

It follows the intervention of Richmond MP Rishi Sunak.

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Mr Sunak wrote to the trust’s chief executive, Siobhan McArdle, following a meeting with her and also with the doctors and nurses working at the Friarage.

The meetings followed the trust announcing that it was struggling to maintain a safe A&E and critical care service at the Friarage because of the difficulties it was having filling vacancies.

In a letter to Mr Sunak, Mrs McArdle said the trust has been advertising vacant posts for over a year but with only limited success.

But it had now drawn up a revised, more targeted recruitment campaign to recruit from the UK but also overseas.

The trust is taking stands at medical conferences in Edinburgh later this month, in Liverpool in September and London in November.

A digital media campaign and careers micro website, running alongside adverts and video links to the jobs section of the British Medical Journal website, would target doctors around the world.

Doctors in Holland, Italy, Spain and Greece – which have a higher proportion of trained anaesthetists per head of population – would be specifically targeted, she said.

Mr Sunak said he was pleased to hear that the trust was stepping up its efforts to recruit for the Friarage.

He said: “As I said last month, I find it hard to understand why we can’t find doctors to work at the Friarage. It is a small hospital but it is located in a beautiful part of the world and the existing staff love working there.

“I welcome the trust’s efforts to broaden the search for staff and we all hope for a good response.”

Meanwhile, support for Mr Sunak’s efforts have come from three local authorities whose residents use the Friarage.

Hambleton District Council leader Mark Robson said he fully supported the campaign to retain the existing services at the hospital which serves the northern part of the Hambleton district.

He said: “The Friarage is a vitally important hospital for a large part of North Yorkshire and we want to see these acute services maintained in Northallerton where it is a major employer.

“As a local authority serving the public, we understand the challenges the health service faces but these particular services are central to what the Friarage is. Without the consultants and middle and lower grade doctors that staff these services, there will be a lot less acute medicine and that will change the nature of the hospital.”

Support has also come from North Yorkshire County Council. The council’s executive member covering health, Cllr Caroline Dickinson, said: “I am aware of the efforts that have been made to recruit the appropriate staff for this much-loved hospital which plays a vital role in the local health economy.

“I fully support the hospital’s managers and Rishi in trying to get these posts filled so that we sustain high-quality services in the local area.”

At last week’s Richmondshire District Council meeting, members unanimously supported a motion proposed by Cllr John Blackie backing Mr Sunak’s efforts.

“This council is gravely concerned about proposed further reductions in healthcare services provided at the Friarage,” said RDC Leader, Cllr Yvonne Peacock.

“It provides vital services for the people of Richmondshire – we have already lost enough from this hospital, we do not want to see more being relocated to Middlesbrough’s James Cook Hospital which is a long way from our district.”