Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group has voted to go ahead with plans to remove consultant cover at the Friarage Hospital, meaning it will become a midwife-led unit.
As a result, the hospital will open a midwifery-led unit, develop a paediatric short-stay assessment unit but continue to deliver community paediatric nursing and consultant paediatric outpatient services. The decision follows a three-month public consultation between September and November 2013.
South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, support’s the CCG’s decision but Richmondshire District Council leader John Blackie said he was “incredibly and bitterly disappointed and very angry”.
Representives from the CCG’s member practices voted on the plans in private on 7 February, but the result was not announced for two weeks.
Vicky Pleydell, the CCG’s chief clinical officer, said: “We have investigated models of service up and down the country, leaving no stone unturned.
“Other options we looked at did not conform to the high standards we feel it is right to aspire to for our patients,” she said. “Our job as a CCG is to ensure we deliver safe high quality services for our patients. We cannot compromise on that.”
Professor Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “This has been a long and complex process which has stemmed from genuine clinical concerns around the safety and future sustainability of these services.
Professor Tricia Hart
“Changing the way health services are run isn’t easy, particularly when they are held so dear by people. We know how much loved the Friarage Hospital is and understandably some people will be very disappointed that change has to happen but this will help to safeguard the quality of care our patients receive.”
On 27 February the CCG will hold an extraordinary governing body meeting to discuss how the option will be implemented and to officially ratify the decision.
Mr Blackie said he plans to take his case to North Yorkshire Council’s health scrutiny committee, which he hopes will be referred to the Independent Reconfiguation Panel. “The fight will go on because the services are simply too valuable and too good to lose,” he said.
He has so far had a fractious relationship with the CCG, having been accused of “bullying and intimidating” behaviour by its chair of Henry Cronin. In turn Mr Blackie accused the CCG of seeking to “stifle or silence” its critics.