The NHS trust which runs Scarborough Hospital has been warned it needs to do more to tackle the negative opinion of it that is growing on social media.
Andrew Butler, a public governor on the board of the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, has told his fellow council members that it needs to understand why so many people think it is an “agent of evil”.
In a report to the council of governors, which met on Wednesday in Malton, Mr Butler drew their attention to the “Save Scarborough and District Hospital” page on Facebook, which has almost 10,000 members.
The page was set up in response to services being moved to York Hospital from Scarborough by the trust.
In his report, Mr Butler says there is “wrong” and “outlandish” information being posted about the trust.
He wrote: “When you look back through the posts on this group, there is an undoubtedly a huge outpouring of love for Scarborough (and Bridlington) Hospital and a high level of support for the front-line staff there.
“However, there is also an astonishing level of mistrust directed towards ‘York Trust’.
“Some of the group’s administrators are quite adamant that ‘York Trust. have brought a culture of bullying to the East Coast which is the cause of all staffing issues and that the ‘York Trust’ are ‘Asset Stripping’ East Coast hospitals.”
He adds: “I would like to see that those members of the public are given honesty and facts, in the place of whispers, innuendo and information that is just plain wrong.”
Mr Butler also says the trust itself has work to do to find out why people are so quick to think the worst of it, he also lays some of the blame at the feet of staff who he says are putting un-checked rumours onto social media.
Mr Butler added: “It does seem to me that services on the East Coast are on the up, and there are huge levels of investment going into Scarborough District Hospital.
“But with that in mind, could I suggest fellow governors have a think about why so many East Coast residents find it so easy to believe such outlandish things about our hospitals?
“Why do members of staff contact this group with rumours rather than simply ask their managers for facts? Why is there this degree of mistrust on the East Coast? Is there something better to be done?”
John Wane, who is an administrator the Facebook page in question and also retired NHS director, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service, that the posters raised genuine concerns from patients and staff at the hospital.
He said: “The trust views any individual or group who dare to even ask questions or challenge them as outlandish.
“They have spent years stripping Scarborough Hospital and East Coast NHS services, with virtually no public information or consultation and created total mistrust through their complete arrogance and disregard for the public they are supposed to serve.”
In response to the concerns raised by Mr Butler and the Facebook group a spokesman for the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it was committed to communicating with patients, staff and residents.
The spokesman added: “It is an inevitability of the health service that responding to change is a constant for us. This is not new and the decisions facing us are unlikely to get any easier or less complex.
“We are keenly aware and understand our duty to involve patients and the public in these decisions when it’s appropriate to do so, and any proposals that may potentially result in significant changes to services would be consulted on, if appropriate, whether it is staff or patients who may be affected.
“Where formal consultation is not required, we are proactive in communicating with our patients wherever we can, and we are open to questions and concerns which we seek to answer and address.”