September 22, 2008

Assurances Are Given Over Review of Health Services

By Philippa Weighell

HEALTH chiefs have given assurances to residents over the future of care in part of the region.

Concerns had been raised over emergency and maternity services at the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and the Catterick Garrison out-ofhours centre, after they were put under review by North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust (PCT).

But at a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council?s health committee, trust bosses said there would be no reduction in care.

Committee chairman Councillor John Blackie, who represents the Upper Dales, said the reassurances would help allay the fears of residents that essential services would be lost.

Gary Hardman, the director of nursing at the trust, and Jill Moulton, director of planning at South Tees Hospital NHS Trust, which is responsible for the Friarage Hospital, both reported to the committee.

A county council spokesman said: ?They committed their organisations to funding and operating a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days- aweek accident and emergency unit atthe Friarage Hospital, providing a safe and effective service.

?The committee was informed that maternity has been taken out of the review by the PCT, and the excellentmaternity service provided at the Friarage Hospital will continue for the foreseeable future.

?Finally, Gary Hardman confirmed that, in respect of the Richmondshire out-of-hours service, no patient needing to consult a doctor during the times their GP surgery is closed will be required, as an outcome of the review, to travel any farther than they have to now to reach the Catterick out-of-hours centre. ?

After the meeting, Coun Blackie said: ?The assurances provided by Gary and Jill, although guarded, are to be welcomed, and will go some way to allay the fears of local people much troubled by the thought of losing these absolutely essential services from the Friarage Hospital, which they rely upon and hold so close to their heart.

?Many already have to travel 40 miles to reach Northallerton, and the thought of having to travel farther when they are unwell, injured or about to have a baby, frankly, frightens them.

?Hopefully, they can rest a little easier now. ?

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