An independent report into emergency services at Northallerton’s Friarage hospital has concluded that there was a sound case to make changes earlier this year. The report was commissioned by my parliamentary colleague, Rishi Sunak MP (Richmond), whose constituency includes the hospital. This came after the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Friarage, announced it was changing the A&E department to an Urgent Treatment Centre because of a shortage of doctors. The report concludes that patient safety ought to be protected under this new care model which has the added advantage of offering a better service for sick children.
The report surveyed A&E services across the UK and concluded that it was extremely rare for a hospital of the size of the Friarage to be able to maintain full A&E provision. Even much larger hospitals have had to make similar changes owing to staffing issues.
The main conclusions of the report are:
- The Trust’s estimate that only ten per cent of patients who would have attended the old A&E had to be treated elsewhere is correct
- The small increase in ambulance travel times for a low number of patients did not lead to increased patient mortality
- Patients with time-critical illness are not affected
- The new Urgent Treatment Centre has treated almost 40 per cent more children than were looked after in the old A&E department
- While the Trust could have done more to recruit overseas doctors in the past, it is not clear that this would have been a sustainable solution for the Friarage.
- The Trust must step up its efforts to recruit and train the emergency nurse practitioners needed to staff the enhanced Urgent Treatment Centre
I know Mr Sunak is following developments closely as I will for constituents who use it as their local hospital. However, I am reassured that the report clearly shows that the Friarage is not alone in facing these staffing challenges, and indeed many much larger hospitals have had to make similar changes to their A&E provision. Taking into account the conclusions of this independent report it is clear that the Trust had a reasonable case to make these changes and I will work with Mr Sunak to ensure that there is proper recruitment and training of emergency nurse practitioners for the new model.
You can read the full report here: https://www.rishisunak.com/sites/www.rishisunak.com/files/2019-06/Friarage%20report%20CF%20%28June%202019%29.pdf
I want to make sure that the future funding formula recognises the challenges faced by smaller hospitals such as The Friarage, Malton and Scarborough. I am working with my neighbouring MPs including Rishi Sunak, Robert Goodwill and Sir Greg Knight to secure extra funding to help cope with these challenges and have held a number of meetings with the leadership of the relevant Trusts and the Health Secretary. I will continue to do whatever I can to protect our vital local services.