Watchdog urges people to speak out about health changes

This story was published 22 September 2017

North Yorkshire’s health watchdog has today urged members of the public to make their voices heard over the changes to local health services that are being considered.

 It is important that people engage in the NHS-led consultations

“This is a time of great change and uncertainty in the NHS both nationally and locally. There is a shortage of money, a shortage of skilled workers and a shortage of time,” said County Councillor Jim Clark, Chairman of the Scrutiny of Health Committee. “Health planners are up against it and we need to do everything that we can to help them make effective and informed decisions about health services in the county.”

The Scrutiny of Health Committee heard details today of:

The early findings of a consultation on the future of mental health services in Hambleton and Richmondshire and proposals to close the two mental health in-patient wards at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

A consultation and engagement exercise that is underway in Harrogate and the surrounding area on the type of community and in-patient mental health services that could be provided there.

Details of a planned engagement and consultation exercise by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the type of health services that could be provided at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.osp

Regarding mental health services, Cllr Clark voiced his concerns that the NHS locally had yet to come together as one to develop a mental health treatment system for North Yorkshire that was fit for purpose and met the needs of some of the county’s most vulnerable people.

“We have seen today two parts of the NHS in the county reviewing mental health services independently of one another. We would like to see the NHS working together and with other key partners to develop community based and in-patient mental health services in North Yorkshire that are the best in the country and of which we can be proud,” he said.

Committee members acknowledged the challenges the NHS faces and the need for change to the way health services are delivered in the county but they remain concerned about proposed changes and continue to press for assurances these will not lead to significant increases in travel times for patients, carers and their loved ones. Also, that any changes to services will be followed by a prolonged period of stability.

Jim Clark, stated: “It is recognised that the model of a hospital providing every single service possible is outdated and often not in keeping with safe clinical delivery. As such, it is accepted that some specialist services will be offered at sites that people may have to travel to. However, the committee needs to be assured that any changes are to the benefit of local people and meet their health needs”.

Committee members highlighted the need to encourage a broad range of people to get involved with NHS led consultations on possible changes to local services.

Cllr Clark said: “More than ever, it is important that people engage in these NHS-led consultations on local health services and ensure that their voice is heard. We understand that people often feel powerless to change things but we would encourage everyone to do what they can to find out about and take part in consultations on NHS services that are planned or underway.”