I receive regular updates from North Yorkshire health chiefs about how our local services are performing.

It’s something which started during the Covid-19 pandemic, has continued since and I very much value.

This week there was really encouraging news in the update from the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs our local hospital services at the Friarage in Northallerton and the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.

Despite the challenges the NHS has faced this winter, over the last five weeks the surgical teams there have carried out more than 3,400 operations of which 2,700 were planned procedures.

At the Friarage, the new diagnostics unit which I had the privilege of opening towards the end of last year is working well with 850 endoscopy tests (a procedure which allows doctors to see inside the body) carried out in that same five-week period.

That is 40 per cent more than in the same period before the Covid 19 pandemic. It means a lot more care provided closer to home with fewer journeys to the James Cook hospital.

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Along with great work in our hospitals, NHS staff are also delivering more care closer to home. For example, 1,200 people every month who are at risk of having to go into hospital unnecessarily are now being helped to get the care they need in their own home.

The urgent community response teams are helping older people and adults with complex health needs to get fast access to a range of healthcare support where they live. This includes access to physiotherapy and occupational therapy, medication prescribing and reviews, and help with staying well-fed and hydrated. This is so important as we know that for older people in particular, an avoidable spell in hospital can harm independence and confidence.

It is an area of particular expertise at the Friarage. I recall opening the ambulatory care unit at the hospital back in 2015 which at the time was an innovative service. It remains a class leader and another example of how the Friarage now operates as a model rural hospital.

I also remember how the Friends of the Friarage Hospital charity was, as ever, heavily involved in making sure the new unit was the best it could be for patients and it remains a key support organisation for all the good things that happen in our hospital.

This year is a special one for the Friends. It celebrates 65 years of working with the NHS for a better Friarage and this weekend its Sapphire Ball takes place at the Golden Lion Hotel in Northallerton.

Sadly, I cannot attend the event but I am sure it will be a splendid, sparkling, occasion, kicking off a year of special fundraising efforts for our much-loved local hospital.