Today’s meeting of North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to refer discussion and debate on important developments in local health issues in Hambleton, Richmondshire and Harrogate, to the council’s health watchdog.
The recent decisions to relocate in-patient mental health provision in Hambleton into the community and the decision not to proceed with development on a site to replace facilities in the Briary Wing of Harrogate Hospital will be subject to investigation by the council’s powerful Scrutiny of Health committee and local area committees, to ensure full consideration of the issues by the relevant councillors and health professionals.
A motion tabled jointly by Cllr John Blackie (Leader of the Independent Group) fought and failed to retain mental health facilities in the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton and by Cllr Geoff Webber (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group) in order to stop the health authority taking the same line with facilities in Harrogate.
The motion read was:
North Yorkshire County Council deplores the recent decision of the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, supported by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley Mental Health Trust, to relocate in-patient mental health provision away from the Friarage Hospital, without any genuine public approval, and calls upon them both to reconsider.
The County Council further notes the decision not to proceed with development on a site previously purchased in Harrogate to replace facilities in the Briary Wing of Harrogate Hospital, and calls upon the relevant Health Authorities to maintain existing in-patient facilities in the Harrogate area.
County Councillor Michael Harrison, Executive member for adult social care and health integration, said:
These are very important issues and ones that members of this council are already discussing. We believe taking this debate back to this committee, as well as the area committee, will give it sharper focus and allow the relevant professionals from the NHS bodies to be present, with the relevant councillors, for a full discussion about these very important issues and to be able to give the appropriate response.
County Councillor Carl Les, Leader of the County Council, said:
Our Scrutiny of Health committee has already acknowledged the challenges the NHS faces and the need for change to the way health services are delivered in the county, but have highlighted their concerns about proposed changes and are continuing to press for assurances these will not lead to significant increases in travel times for patients, carers and their loved ones.
We look forward to the subject coming back to the council, once Scrutiny of Health committee and the relevant area committees have provided a comprehensive view of the important issues the motion raises.
The Chairman has discretion to decide whether a motion should be debated on the day or referred to the Executive or a committee, for consideration and report back to a subsequent council meeting and has today decided that the motion will be considered by the Scrutiny of Health and the Area Committee.
The next meeting of Scrutiny of Health is 15 December, where the relevant professional bodies have been invited to attend.