Richmondshire residents “condemned to a death sentence” by NHS bosses seeking to close intensive care beds

James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

Richmondshire residents have been “condemned to a death sentence” by NHS bosses seeking to close intensive care beds, it has been claimed.

Richmondshire District councillors have lined up to express diselief and outrage following an announcement by South Tees NHS Trust and Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group that the Friarage accident and emergency department would be temporarily downgraded to a “24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre” from March 27.

NHS bosses said due to their inabililty to recruit staff to work at the hospital it was no longer safe for patients needing critical care to be treated at the Northallerton infirmary and they would launch a public consultation over future plans for emergency healthcare provision.

Dr Adrian Clements, the hospital’s medical director, said: “We need to make these temporary changes to provide safe services for the population we serve.

“Despite our many efforts to recruit key medical staff over the last 18 months, support from our partners and the hard work of my team to keep services running, we are now facing significant risks because of an imminent gap in staffing.”

A full meeting of the authority was warned NHS bosses were expected to announce further cuts to services at the Friarage in the summer.

Members said it the extra distances patients would face travelling to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough or the Darlington Memorial Hospital would lead to deaths in ambulances en route to hospitals and diminish patients’ recovery chances.

Independent councillor Linda Curran told a full meeting of the authority: “I’m not disappointed, I am absolutely furious because what the NHS is doing to us here in Richmondshire.

“It’s been said to be the best place to live in England, but if people knew our health services were disappearing at the rate they are they wouldn’t feel the same about it.

“How many times have they done this to us? No wonder GPs and consultants don’t want to come and live and work in this area, they can see that they have given us a death sentence.

“We can’t keep quiet about this, we really need to shout and scream and speak to the minister. We can’t let them walk over us.”

Members said Richmondshire residents were being treated like second class citizens.

Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “If we are not careful we will be a healthcare desert and we have to stand up and fight these people. And we have to teach them they owe us the same level of care anybody would expect in Manchester or London or anywhere else.

“There is no reason why we, simply because we live in a rural area, should be beaten up by the NHS and condemned to an early death.

“If you have a heart attack or a stroke you are supposed to be accessing a medical professional, apart from paramedics, very quickly. We are all now condemned to not recovering from our strokes because by the time they get us to James Cook the damage has been done.”

The authority’s leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock, said she would fight tooth and nail for excellent alternative provision or stop the closure becoming permanent as since the loss of out of hours services 18 years ago Richmondshire had suffered a continuous drain of health provision.

She said: “No matter what the problems are across the country, we have unique problems here and that is the distance. We have to have intensive care beds within easy reach for people who live in Richmondshire.”

“It is disappointing that this is happening now, calling it temporary, when in the summer we were supposed to be having a consultation on the future of the Friarage. My fear is that tge intensive care beds are already gone and not even part of a consultation, which is dreadful.

“Intensive care means you need that care pretty urgently. Thank goodness we have got the air ambulance. At least they can pick you up and take you to James Cook.”

Councillor John Blackie added: “Anybody who believes it is temporary can come outside with me and we will fly to the moon together.”


  1. The Friarage hospital was a brilliant hospital with awards etc for excellence. The worst thing they did was joining with JCUH and becoming a trust. Over the last 10 yrs or so they have dine nothing for the friarage except cut beds services and treat staff dispicably given them no thought what so ever. Its time for our councillors to stand up and be counted. They quick enough to give themselves pay rises and fill out their expenses claim forms so let’s see how quick they act on this .

  2. Ok so what is the Council going to actually do? The people of the area have joined a Save the Friarage Hospital campaign on Facebook with over 1.000 joining in 2 days there is a petition with already over 1.000 signatures in just over 1 day. What practical action is the Council going to take. Unless the Friarage is attractive to job applicants it will close…departments should be opening not closing…

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