Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has urged his constituents to join a conversation about the future of emergency care services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.
The MP, whose constituency covers the area served by the Northallerton hospital, says if people care about their local hospital they must get involved in an engagement exercise carried out by NHS managers which could lead to changes in the way A&E, 24/7 anaesthetic cover, critical care and acute medicine services are delivered.
Health chiefs say these services are becoming clinically unsustainable because of difficulties recruiting doctors and that changes will have to be made.
Mr Sunak has been in contact with senior managers at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Friarage, throughout the summer following a meeting he arranged with the hospital's doctors, nurses and other staff.
Mr Sunak's meeting following staff briefings held by South Tees which highlighted the doctor recruitment crisis. Doctors told him the problems finding anaesthetists to cover the Friarage 24/7 threatened to undermine its ability to provide emergency care and surgery
Mr Sunak urged the trust to step up its recruitment efforts, rota more doctors based at James Cook to work at the Friarage and set out a positive vision for Friarage to end uncertainty about its future.
He has this week released all the correspondence he has had with local NHS managers about the workforce problems and also the proposed changes to mental health services which could lead to ward closures at the Friarage.
The letters demonstrate the extent to which the MP has pressed them to protect services at the Friarage.
He said: "All the letters are now on my website and I hope making them accessible will help constituents to understand the issues and inform their own contributions to the debate which is about to start."
"I urge everyone who cares about the Friarage and good access to local hospital services to get involved and make their views known.
"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."
Mr Sunak's letters to health chiefs and their responses can be found below.
|Letter to South Tees Trust re doctor recruitment||192.65 KB|
|Reply from South Tees Trust July 20||232.5 KB|
|Letter to Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Trust about mental health changes||156.03 KB|
|Reply from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Trust||221.89 KB|