Hospital debt to be ‘rubbed out’?

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SCARBOROUGH health trust’s historic £21 million debt could be wiped out as plans move forward towards a merger with York.

Questions about Scarborough Hospital’s finances will come under the spotlight tonight at a public meeting at Scarborough Library.

Leo McGrory, chairman of Scarborough and District Local Involvement Network, will be pushing for answers on the situation from hospital chief executive Mike Proctor, amid speculation that the huge debt may be cancelled.

Mr McGrory said that he was “far more optimistic” about the link-up between Scarborough and York than he was six months ago.

He said that finances were a key factor as the two organisations move forward together and that he hoped the historic debt would be “rubbed out”.

Mr McGrory, who will chair the meeting at 6.30pm tonight, said: “The NHS has changed beyond all recognition since its inception, people are living longer and treatment and surgery have improved beyond recognition. But this presents major challenges as community healthcare is coming under more and more pressure.

“The status quo cannot simply be maintained, and the NHS has to change.”

The merger was proposed as it looked unlikely that Scarborough would meet Government requirements to become a Foundation Trust by 2013 on its own.

Bosses at Scarborough and York have been working together closely together on the technicalities of the merger, which is expected to go ahead on April 1.

With a series of public meetings due to take place over the next couple of weeks, it is now hoped that more information will be made available to the public on what the link-up will mean for them.

Mr McGrory said he has been impressed with how hospital bosses, particularly Mr Proctor, have been willing to communicate with “openness and transparency” on the proposals since they were announced over a year ago.

He will now be asking for more information, and assurances if possible, on issues such as staffing, possible redundancies and the longer-term future of the combined organisation.

A Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust spokeswoman said: “The vision for the new organisation is to be recognised locally and nationally as delivering outstanding clinical services that meet the needs of its varied population and support services that matter to patients.

“It will provide certainty and sustainability where this has previously not been the case.”

Another meeting will be held at Bridlington Spa on Monday next week. A third will be at Whitby Coliseum on Tuesday next week, before a fourth event at Malton Rugby Club on January 30. All meetings will start at 6.30pm.