'Most people thought it was a done deal, they were right' says campaigners against Friarage downgrade (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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'Most people thought it was a done deal, they were right' says campaigners against Friarage downgrade
FEELINGS across a 1,000- square mile area of North Yorkshire were running high last night amid claims the massive public rejection of the NHS blueprint for the Friarage had been ignored.
Residents and civic leaders said the comprehensive engagement exercise organised by NHS bosses, which included nine public meetings from April to June, appeared to have had no effect on the clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) proposals.
North Yorkshire County Council health scrutiny boss Jim Clark, who chaired most of the public engagement meetings, said the sessions had been beset by low turnouts.
He said: “The problem was most people thought it was a done deal – and the report shows they were right.”
Mayor of Richmond Stuart Parsons described the report as an “absolutely appalling”
demonstration of the CCG’s determination to pursue its own agenda.
Councillor Parsons said: “Their solution might work in a city, with good transport and roads, but how on earth are people needing treatment or visiting sick relatives supposed to get from Richmond to Middlesbrough and back in a day?”
Residents in Thirsk and the Yorkshire Dales, who would be among the most affected in terms of additional journey times if the plans are enacted, said they would “fight the proposals tooth and nail”.
Mayor of Thirsk Cynthia Hesmondhalgh said residents would not be able to afford to travel to Middlesbrough or York and families would be presented with impossible situations when a child fell sick.
She said: “I am absolutely disgusted by this and parents around here are up in arms – the town is being very badly treated.”
Campaigners said it appeared the CCG had considered the safer option was to battle with the public rather than the consultants who view working in the paediatric unit as an “onerous and unfulfilling job”.
Former Mayor of Northallerton John Coulson said the report had failed to take into account Hambleton District Council’s Local Development Framework, which outlines a plan for thousands of new houses in the next ten years.
He said: “It is extremely bad news. They are moving us all to hospitals where you can’t easily drive to or park. If anything, they should be moving services to Northallerton.”
David Williamson, of the Save the Friarage campaign said that although the CCG claimed it had “left no stone unturned”, he did not feel it had sufficiently investigated the possibility of maintaining consultant-led services at the hospital. He said: “The hospital services should be there to support the people, rather than the staff who work.”
Mr Williamson said campaigners would step up their efforts following the announcement that a public consultation exercise was being launched.