A change to increase the number of on-call surgeons at Scarborough Hospital has been welcomed by a health scrutiny committee.
The York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, says the change to a rota of 18 consultants working across both Scarborough and York hospitals will end the reliance of locums on the coast.
It means a 24-hour general surgery provision in Scarborough can be maintained after it was left in a “fragile” position due to staffing issues.
North Yorkshire County Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee today gave the plan its unanimous backing. It will come into effect in October.
Wendy Scott, the NHS trust’s chief operating officer, told the committee the change would be a boost to the hospital.
“We have had issue recruiting to the coast,” she said, “especially when it comes to surgical roles.”
The committee was told that there had been an eight-person surgical rota at Scarborough but six of those were locum staff who cost more to employ than permanent employees.
Mrs Scott added that to get around the hiring issue new surgeon jobs were advertised as York-based but with rota commitments in Scarborough.
She said: “This proved successful in attracting candidates. The only change we are planning to make is to move around 50 patients a year from Scarborough to York who require colorectal cancer surgery and these patients often need critical care and spend longer in hospital.”
The committee was told that all 18 consultants will have on-call commitments at both sites, as well as providing planned surgery in Scarborough. Emergency care will continue to be provided at both main sites, with 24 hours a day, seven days a week consultant on call cover.
Scarborough county councillor Liz Colling (Lab) praised the move from the trust to secure general surgery provision on the coast.
She said: “I would like to say thank you very much on behalf of my family and my residents and everybody in the borough as this sounds like a good solution.”
A spokesman for the NHS trust told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that Scarborough could no longer rely on the expensive locums.
The spokesman added: “General surgery in Scarborough was in a fragile position as it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a 24-hour general surgery rota on the East Coast, due to serious recruitment issues.
“This new way of working, developed by our clinicians, will offer an enhanced service for patients and maintain general surgery on the east coast, which is really good news.”
The committee voted unanimously to support the trust’s move to a joint general surgical rota for Scarborough and York.