The MP for Richmond, William Hague, has called on healthcare providers in North Yorkshire to give meaningful and exhaustive consideration to alternative clinical models at the Friarage Hospital that would ensure it continues to provide a full range of maternity and children’s services. A National Clinical Advisory Team report earlier this year into paediatric services at the Friarage recommended an outpatient-only service. This would mean that the maternity unit in its current form would no longer be sustainable.
Mr Hague said:
For decades the Friarage has provided a consultant-led maternity unit that has been used by tens of thousands of people. The quality of children’s and maternity services, at what is a vitally important hospital for residents of Hambleton and Richmondshire, is rightly held in high regard, and the provision of a Special Care Baby Unit is an important part of that. The current proposals would diminish the capacity of the Friarage to provide these crucial services.
In their report the National Clinical Advisory Team presented a number of options for the future of paediatric services at the Friarage. In my view they did not consider the full range of alternative proposals. There are legitimate concerns around how the Friarage continues to provide safe maternity and children’s services but due consideration must also be given to those patients, particularly in remote areas, who already travel long distances and would be expected to travel even further for consultant-led maternity services.
It is important that every effort is made to find a satisfactory solution as has been done in other parts of the country. Similar sized maternity units have survived by working together with larger hospitals or through the innovative development of nursing skills. It is not good enough just to say that the one at the Friarage should close. To maintain the current level of services, a completely unique solution may need to be found and local healthcare authorities will be failing in their duty if they do not consider this.
The Trust and CCG are right to be open about the issues that face the Friarage and I encourage residents of North Yorkshire to attend the meetings being held as part of the public consultation process. If people feel as strongly about this issue as I do, I encourage them to join me at the Family Rally and March on Saturday 26 May.