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Hague looks south to find Friarage solution
3:05pm Friday 27th April 2012 in Spectator's Notes
Those campaigning against the current proposal to downgrade children services and maternity at the hospital through the withdrawal of the 24-hour consultant-led service provided at present are looking far and wide to find similar hospitals which have had to deal with the same, or a similar, situation.
Most attention is focussed, apparently, on Banbury’s Horton Hospital which is part of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust. Horton is a small general hospital 28 miles away from the trust’s main hospital, the John Radcliffe. A consultant-led maternity service is maintained at the smaller hospital through a rota covering the two hospitals which ensures consultants get the relevant experience to keep their clinical skills at the required standard while also ensuring Horton still offers the full service to its local patients.
This is thought to be a model which might be applied at Northallerton and the North Yorkshire County Council health scrutiny committee may well make a trip south to see how it works in more detail.
A second model being examined is in Northumberland where Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington is the principal general hospital for a huge swathe of the county. Consultants are based at Ashington and support midwifery-led maternity units at Hexham General and Alnwick and Berwick Infirmaries. Berwick’s hospital is 48 miles away from Ashington. The distances involved are not dissimilar to those involved in getting to the Friarage and/or South Tees at Middlesbrough.
The mood music emanating from the South Tees Trust is that no change at the Friarage is not an option. There might be a way forward, however, based upon a combination of the Oxfordshire and Northumberland models.