Rishi Sunak calls for pay incentive for Friarage doctor recruits

Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has written to the boss of the NHS calling for incentives to help recruit desperately-needed doctors at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

Mr Sunak has asked Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, to allocate funding to overcome difficulties the hospital has in recruiting emergency care doctors, particularly anaesthetists.

A Recruitment Retention Premium (RRP) is used in the NHS where hospitals or trusts struggle to attract particular grades of staff. A pay supplement is given to an individual postholder or groups of jobs.

In his letter to Mr Stevens, Mr Sunak says the situation at the hospital is now critical. "Six positions in critical care/aneasthetics are currently vacant and the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been struggling to fill them for some time," he writes. "For the sake of half a dozen vacancies the entire hospital stands to lose its critical care facility."

He adds: "As you appreciate, losing critical care will completely change what the hospital means to the area – it will no longer be a functioning hospital where very sick people can go, or indeed most surgery can be conducted."

Because of the difficulties the Trust running the hospital has had recruiting doctors, it says some current services are at risk of being unsustainable. It is carrying out an engagement exercise with the public explaining the difficulties and is likely to put forward proposals to make changes to services in the New Year.

Mr Sunak's intervention follows a meeting he had with Health Minister Phillip Dunne to discuss the situation at the Friarage, Mr Dunne had told him about the Recruitment Retention Premium and said it the Friarage could be an appropriate recipient of the funding.

Mr Sunak also requests a meeting with Mr Stevens and the Trust to fix what he describes as an "eminently fixable situation".

He concludes: "All that is needed are around six new doctors which will essentially make the difference between the Friarage having a bright future as a rural hospital or yet more downgrades to this beloved local institution.

"If there was ever a place that this RRP fund could make a real difference then it is the Friarage. I cannot imagine where this public money could be invested with a greater return."

Mr Sunak has been campaigning to retain the emergency care services at the hospital since the summer when the Trust first indicated it was having difficulty staffing some of the doctor rotas at the Friarage.