I have met with Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock MP, along with my parliamentary colleagues from Scarborough and Whitby, Robert Goodwill, and East Yorkshire, Sir Greg Knight, to press for extra funding for Scarborough Hospital. We highlighted the challenges faced by Scarborough and Bridlington which share common characteristics with a handful of other similar hospitals around the country that are classified as an ‘unavoidably small’ hospital. These hospitals serve relatively small populations but owing to their remote locations need to provide a wide range of services as travelling to other hospitals is too great a burden, particularly for vulnerable people. As a consequence, these hospitals cost more to run. We will support a potential bid for extra funds. When the business case is submitted in the next couple of months, the Health Secretary agreed he would consider its merits.
There are about 10 ‘unavoidably small’ hospitals in the UK which, owing to their remote locations, cannot benefit from economies of scale and have difficulties in both staff recruitment and retention along with higher overall costs of travel. We have promised to support York Trust make its business case for Scarborough Hospital to qualify. If successful, it could mean that the hospital could receive extra funding which would make a huge difference to staff levels and the cost of care.
We had a very good meeting with the Secretary of State who clearly understood our arguments that our constituents should expect to have access to a full range of health care services and our concerns that there has been a significant diminution in the provision of services as well as continued uncertainty about the future of Scarborough Hospital, which is a great worry and inconvenience to patients. I think Mr Hancock was taken aback when I told him how the daughter of one Filey constituent had to travel from her Harrogate home to collect her to take her to York Hospital only to take her back to Filey again after the appointment.
Mr Goodwill added “I am pleased Matt Hancock found time to meet with MPs affected by the situation at Scarborough Hospital. Because of its geographical location we need to see a wide range of services at Scarborough Hospital. When the merger with York took place, I was assured that it would be all about doctors travelling to Scarborough to treat patients and not patients travelling to York. They need to deliver on that promise.”
We are all concerned that the recent decision to centralise the breast cancer oncology outpatient service to York Hospital is the thin end of the wedge and they are determined to ensure that as many of Scarborough health services as possible are maintained so that their constituents enjoy the same access to care as those living near York and other bigger hospitals.