The Friarage

I AM sure this will be one of many letters you will receive concerning the recent news about the Friarage Hospital. I, like many others, am disappointed in the inevitable downgrading of one our region's most respected hospitals. The Friarage serves not only the County Town of North Yorkshire but a lot of surrounding rural areas.

The accident and emergency facility is a lifesaver for people who would otherwise have to travel a lot further for urgent treatment. Northallerton is getting at least 800 new properties with more being built at Thirsk.

Do James Cook and Darlington hospitals have the capacity to cope? I know the problem is attracting consultants to the Friarage as they wish to work and progress within a large teaching hospital.

Would it be feasible to second these A&E doctors on a six-month rotation at the Friarage in order to provide a much-needed service for patients in life and death situations?

I have worked in the Civil Service whereupon reaching a middle management grade you are expected to move where and when needed. I would expect members of our caring profession to understand the need for this. It would be a good solution for the trust to implement if their intention really is to keep the Friarage open.

Christine Booth, Northallerton


AS representatives of the patients at our practice in Leyburn, we were dismayed to learn last week that the CCG is cutting funding for the enhanced minor injuries services given by local GPs from April 1.

This seems to us to be completely counter-productive. The current service not only fulfils current NHS England policy of moving more services into the community; it also helps to relieve the burden on already overstretched A&E departments and Urgent Treatment Centres.

It also provides a local service, which is so important in a rural area like ours where it can be a constant struggle for some patients to make the journey to the Friarage, James Cook or Darlington Memorial hospitals.

Apparently, some practices receiving this funding are failing to provide, which has been given as one reason for the change. This is not the case with the Leyburn practice. We gather the CCG could have decided to remove funding from non-performing practices while continuing the service for practices like ours but has chosen not to do so.

Patient transport is a matter of constant concern for many of our patients. What will it take to get all the relevant authorities, the CCG, South Tees Hospitals and North Yorkshire County Council, to work together to help patients in rural areas gain access to the hospital services they need?

Finally, while we recognise the CCG’s financial difficulties, we regret the adverse impact on patients. Fundamentally, we believe that the ultimate responsibility for this erosion lies with the Government, and we have asked the CCG to press once again for sufficient resources to sustain patient services in our area.

Nigel Watson, chair, Leyburn Medical Practice PPG


WITH reference the article “NHS officials misled council health watchdog” (D&S Times, Feb 22), and scrutiny of health chairman Jim Clark's scathing condemnation of NHS officers for misleading the council on mental health issues. Whereas I fully endorse Cllr Clark's comments he can’t say he couldn’t see this coming.

Over a year ago I contacted Cllr Clark and senior officers of Hambleton, Richmond and Whitby CCG who were acting in partnership with South Tees NHS Trust. The subject of the correspondence was the gradual erosion of services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

Key to my argument was the apparent lack of local accountability for the actions of the CCG and South Tees NHS Trust. I was informed by Cllr Clark that “it is the North Yorkshire County Council who holds the CCG to account”.

I was informed by Gill Collinson, chief nurse acting on behalf of the CCG: “The CCG is not 'accountable' to the Scrutiny of Health Committee”.

Requesting clarification of this, Daniel Harry, scrutiny team leader at NYCC informed me that NYCC were actually responsible for ensuring that the public were consulted on local NHS issues.

The failure of NYCC to grasp this particular nettle says it all. Although not in relation to the Friarage I am pleased that Cllr Clark has now decided to confront the local NHS services

Meanwhile, the issue of the Friarage has taken yet another twist. (I thought we were waiting for the response to a business/clinical case from NHS England?)

Meanwhile, following a meeting with my MP Kevin Hollinrake in February 2018, he informed me that he had “drawn a line” on any further reduction in A&E and critical care services at the Friarage. It remains to be seen whether he will ensure there is at least some form of local democratic accountability within the local NHS service.

B. Forbes, Thornton le Moor


THE people we trust to make those vital decisions which affect us all – how good are they? One imagines them pondering a new housing development. Do they really join the dots?

How many cars will there be, will the sewage system be adequate, will the water supply suffice, will the postal services serve, is there a sufficient medical provision, how much more polluting particulates will there be, can our hospitals, schools, roads, police, leisure facilities deal with the increased demand?

The answer to these questions appears to be that they are not considered in any depth. In an expanding world it appears that decisions are being made to contract hospital services, increase pollution through increased travel to services elsewhere – when they are available on our doorstep.

Northallerton has been voted as one of the best places to live. It is expanding, yet no serious money is being spent to eradicate the regular grid-lock of two strategically place level crossings. A welcome by-pass of Bedale which improved traffic flow only to be nullified a mile after, thus heavy traffic being concentrated over an inadequate bridge and squeezed through the settlements of Morton-on-Swale and Ainderby, causing pollution, reducing the quality of life for the residents and frustration for all.

Now it seems our local hospital services are under threat once more. I ask again – how good are our decision makers?

Alan Harpley, Scruton

Extra officers

I READ in a recent edition that the North Yorkshire police and crime commissioner is wanting to appoint a manager at a salary o £105,000 to £115,000 (D&S Times, Feb 15).

In view of the recent increase in violent crime and a meeting of chief officers appealing desperately to the government for extra funding, just how many extra officers would this pay for?

In fact I would like to know just how much of our rate payers' cash is used per year to finance the commissioner's office? I would think that many new officers could be employed for the same amount and in a much more worthwhile role.

C.P Atkinson, Great Ayton

Not political

TWO months ago we were told complaints about Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s police, fire and crime commissioner, were politically-motivated, which they were not. Now she says her problems are because she is a female politician, likening her position to that of former MP Anne McIntosh.

Some years ago I attended Ms McIntosh’s surgery. She was very late and did not apologise to the many people kept waiting. I tried to explain my problem but she constantly interrupted. She said she knew all about flooding at Thirsk which she didn’t. I was actually there to discuss something else – Hambleton council’s failure to enforce its own planning condition on drainage which had evidenced itself in the cloudburst three days before the floods.

She repeatedly declined to answer direct questions and said she would write to the then chief executive of Hambleton yet he was part of the problem. She treated me with disdain and failed to communicate. Her performance that day confirms comparisons with Mrs Mulligan are all too valid.

You report that in the face of all the evidence and public opinion Mrs Mulligan still insists she was right about moving the police headquarters and about taking over the fire brigade. She says she has made "a big difference in lots of different ways". She sure has – for the worse!

This is not about politics and it is not about gender. It is about her competence and her attitude to the public and their representatives. Ms McIntosh was deselected. Mrs Mulligan cannot be deselected but she should not be elected if she is foolish enough to stand again.

David Severs, Northallerton

Cost of living

IN 2016, in her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May said that she wouldn’t be driven "by the interests of the privileged few" but those of "ordinary working class families" who "worry about the cost of living".

The Office of National Statistics has released its latest figures this week on income inequality. While the income of the richest 20 per cent of the population increased by 4.7 per cent it showed that the income of the poorest 20 per cent fell by 1.6 per cent. With increases in energy bills and council tax and benefit and public sector pay caps the poor are getting poorer but Theresa May’s privileged few are getting richer.

With JCB paying ex-Brexit Minister David Davis £60,000 per year (on top of his MP’s salary) and Boris Johnson more for one speech than the poorer 20 per cent receive in a year it’s obvious that Tory actions mean more than Theresa May’s words.

Philip Knowles, Chair Richmondshire Liberal Democrats

Knife crime

SEVERAL times a week we wake up to hear that another teenager has been knifed to death. Some time ago politicians said that the penalty for carrying a knife in the street was going to be five years in prison but that never happened. It is no good making promises and not keeping them.

This level of violence has been increasing for some time along with the increased use of drugs and will get worse unless something drastic is done. Our politicians will say that there is no correlation between fewer police on the street and the increase in crime, years ago I remember them saying there is no connection between smoking and lung cancer!

Our politicians should wake up and smell the coffee.

Brian Tyldesley, Middleham

Prescription costs

IT was infuriating to read (Echo, Feb 22) that from April 1, the charges for each item on a doctor’s prescription is to rise to £9, and it was so frustrating that the author of the article, for whatever reasons, made absolutely no mention that this applied only to England, because prescriptions are dispensed freely in the rest of the UK.

That such a situation exists is beyond belief, but it may be suspected that there is a powerful political motivation behind it, as no MP seems to query it, or speak up for the English, and are happy to allow them to pay these iniquitously high charges for their medicines.

When a question was raised on a related topic asking why care in residential homes is free in Scotland, but astronomically high fees must be paid in England, the answer was that the Scottish Government chose to provide that service from its own income, much of it provided by the application of the Barnett Formula.

This provides monies raised from general national taxation for each country in Britain, according to its perceived needs.

It would be axiomatic to suppose that when such costly facilities as care can be provided free-of-charge, then the providing country is being given too much money from the national pot, and so too with free medical prescriptions.

The inventor of the formula, Lord Barnett, conceded that it was unfair and out-of-date, but even so no politician appears willing the change it, very very much to the detriment of England which acts as the milch-cow for the rest of the UK.

Time for change was long ago, so let’s have it right now, along with a much-needed English Parliament.

Bobby Meynell, Stockton.