No plans to privatise part of Scarborough Hospital A&E claims health boss

A health chief has said there are no plans to privatise part of Scarborough Hospital’s emergency department following an outcry over a similar proposal in York.

By Carl Gavaghan, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:32 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:36 pm

North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group member Simon Cox made the comments today following concerns raised over news that a section of York Hospital’s emergency department could be handed over to a private firm.

A petition has been started in York after the plans were revealed for the Vocare Group to take over more of the department’s services.

The move was described as amounting to “privatisation of part of the A&E” by one consultant in York and York MP Rachael Maskell said the plan was “ill-conceived” and was “in the interests of no-one except the profit-making company”.

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Health bosses claim there are no plans to privatise part of the Scarborough Hospital A&E department.

The minor illness department at York A&E is already managed by Vocare and the minor injuries service is run by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs Scarborough Hospital.

There are now plans for both services in York to be combined under Vocare.

Mr Cox was put on the spot by Scarborough councillor Rich Maw during a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee who said that the public may not be aware that Vocare already ran a number of services on the coast through its Yorkshire Doctors Urgent Care arm.

Cllr Maw said: “Can we expect a similar merger in Scarborough Hospital with a private company providing assessment and subsequent care of minor illness and minor injury?

In response, Mr Cox denied that was going to happen.

He said: “In short, there are no planned changes to the provision of urgent care in Scarborough Hospital.

“Vocare has been providing the urgent treatment centre function, co-located within the emergency department since 2015.

“They also run the GP out of hours service which is part of integrated urgent care and they work alongside and integrate very effectively with York Foundation Trust who provide the Emergency Department.

“Vocare and York Trust work together to provide that and there are no planned changes to urgent care provision at Scarborough Hospital.

“So, that will continue as it does at the present time.”

Cllr Maw responded that “often plans are followed by u-turns.”

Earlier this week Simon Morritt, chief executive at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, responded to the concerns raised in York by saying that national guidance now states that minor injury and minor illness services in A&E should be linked up.

He said: “The only thing that’s changed in recent months is the change to the national specification around urgent treatment centres. That national specification has placed an emphasis on providers of minor injuries and minor illnesses working more closely together and that’s what effectively it means for us.

“We are not, and this is the important thing, we are not proposing that York Hospital Trust in the coming weeks and months will not be the provider of minor injuries service and we will also be providing the screening service at the front door.

“What’s important is that we work together with Vocare so that there is an integrated offer to members of the public.”

Rachael Maskell, the Labour MP for York Central, has written to the Health Secretary, the NHS Trust and Vocare, voicing her concerns over the plan, and also launched the petition for residents in York, which has close to 13,000 signatures.