Public urged to attend Friarage Hospital engagement events

Residents of Richmondshire have been urged to attend public events to discuss the future of the Friarage Hospital.

Political opponents have issued the same message that staying away from discussions about the hospital will not help the campaign to preserve services.

An engagement programme has been launched by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Friarage. NHS officials say it is needed in order to develop a long term, sustainable plan for the hospital.

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Building a Sustainable Future for the Friarage drop in sessions will take place across Richmondshire over the next two months.

NHS officials say the events will give those present the opportunity to understand the challenges facing the Friarage Hospital, to share their views and to explore opportunities to begin to develop what a sustainable future could look like in the next 10 to 15 years.

Officials say the challenges include recruitment difficulties which are impacting on some key service areas such as critical care, overnight anaesthetic cover and accident and emergency.

Talking about the engagement exercise, perennial Friarage campaigner, Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie, urged people to attend the event in Hawes next Monday.

He said: “Nothing sends a misleading message out more than an empty meeting room so nothing would please the local NHS more than there being a poor turnout in Hawes next Monday evening.  The NHS are past masters of running ‘foregone conclusion’ public consultations and this one on the Friarage is a classic example.

“If there is only a small audience it will claim that as a community we are not too concerned to see the few remaining but very important emergency care services at The Friarage being transferred to the James Cook.

This would leave Hawes and High Abbotside in particular and the Upper Dales in general as the communities in England furthest away from a hospital providing these services.

Cllr Blackie said the services under threat included the midwife-led maternity unit.

He added: “The prospect of a 60 mile journey to have your baby grows ever nearer, and brings into play our worst fears of the land of lay-by births along the A66.

Being rushed to the James Cook in an emergency ambulance or in your own car with a grumbling appendicitis or a broken limb needing surgery another consequence.”

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has also urged his constituents to get involved in the process.

He added: “I understand some people’s cynicism about engagement or consultation exercises in the light of past experiences but that will not help those of us who are fighting to maintain a good range of services at the Friarage.

“What is potentially at stake here is the core service offered by the Friarage and whether it includes emergency care and surgery – for which 24/7 anaesthetic cover is essential – as opposed to planned procedures and elective surgery – like hip and knee replacements.

“My view is, and always has been, that the rurality of this area and the distances involved mean that we have to preserve emergency care services at the Friarage. Exactly what form those services take will be explored during this coming process.”

Dr Adrian Clements, Medical Director at the Friarage Hospital, said the hospital was, and would remain, an integral part of the organisation and a key point of service delivery.

However, he added: “There are a number of challenges that we have to address.

“Nationally, health services across the country have had to adapt to changing population needs with an increasing number of frail older people, ever improving clinical standards and recruitment difficulties in some specialities.

“As one of the smallest hospitals in the country, the Friarage will always be more vulnerable to these national challenges due to its size. Our main concerns are around the long term sustainability of some clinical areas where patients need round the clock urgent care from experienced medical staff.”

These are the engagement events planned:


Date Venue Time Address
Monday 16 October Fountain Hotel, Hawes 6pm – 8pm Market Place, Hawes, DL8 3RD
Saturday 21 October Richmond Town Hall


1.30pm – 3.30pm 41 Market Place, Richmond,

DL10 4QL

Monday 6 November Catterick Leisure Centre 6pm – 8pm Gough Rd, Catterick Garrison, DL9 3EL
Wednesday 8 November Stokesley Town Hall 4pm – 6pm Market Place, Stokesley,


Thursday 9 November Northallerton Town Hall 6pm – 8pm High Street, Northallerton,  DL7 8QR
Monday 13 November Old Leyburn School, Arts and Community Centre 6pm – 8pm Richmond Road, Leyburn, DL8 5DL
Wednesday 15 November Golden Fleece Hotel, Thirsk 4pm – 6pm Market Place, Thirsk YO7 1LL
Tuesday 21 November Bedale Hall, Bedale 6pm – 8pm North End
Saturday 2 December Town Hall, Masham Noon – 2pm Market Place, Masham, HG4 4DY
Thursday 14 December Northallerton Town Hall 4pm – 6pm High Street, Northallerton,  DL7 8QR