Rishi Sunak MP has enlisted the help of a highly-rated healthcare management consultancy firm to scrutinise plans for the future of the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
Mr Sunak, MP for Richmond, has employed the firm to help him hold managers and senior doctors to account over changes to emergency services at the hospital.
Last month, the hospital’s A&E department was changed to a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre with critical care and emergency surgery moved to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both hospitals, and senior doctors at the Friarage Hospital say the changes have been made because of difficulties recruiting consultant anaesthetists and critical care doctors to the North Yorkshire hospital.
Mr Sunak said: ““I want to make sure we have left no stone unturned in this process as we seek to protect services at the Friarage. It is important that we have independent advice to help usscrutinise the Trust’s actions and what the doctors tell us about their vision for the future of the hospital.”
“I don’t take anything I am told at face value. I question everything and this consulting firm will assist me to ask the key questions and provide an independent assessment of what is being proposed.”
The firm Mr Sunak has employed is Carnall Farrar, a consultancy which has worked throughout the NHS, including a recent project with health services in Devon, a county which faces similar challenges to North Yorkshire in providing health care in a very rural area.
Its work in Devon led to it being judged the best provider of healthcare analytics in the prestigious2018 Health Service Journal Awards. It was also voted the best consultancy in the same awards.
Mr Sunak has asked Carnall Farrar to use its experience of working across the UK to judge whether the emergency services model proposed for the Friarage by the South Trust was the best possible achievable outcome.
He said: “I have asked the firm to look around at the UK at how similar hospitals to the Friarage provide their emergency care services. This analysis will provide us with a clear picture of what is achievable for our hospital. I have also asked them to scrutinise the Trust’s proposed model and tell us whether it is really required and whether it is in fact an appropriate and sustainable response to the situation.
Mr Sunak said he was pleased that Dr Adrian Clements, the Friarage’s Medical Director and also the Deputy Chief Executive of the South Tees Trust, had agreed to co-operate with Carnall Farrar.
He said he had asked Carnall Farrar to produce a report on the South Tees Trust’s plans for the Friarage by the end of April. The findings will be made public.