Status change unacceptable

I was appalled to hear reports of the possible reduction in Accident and Emergency Services at Scarborough Hospital by North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust as part of an attempt to reduce their present financial deficit, which is currently well in excess of £19m.

Until June 30, 2012, I was chairman of Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare Trust (SNEY), and I led a strategy to eliminate the historic debt of that trust, and also to provide £20m of fresh capital with some revenue support for the next four years. This was achieved through a merger with York Hospital Foundation Trust, with support from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA), and the Primary Care Trust (PCT) indicated their full support. I left my position feeling satisfied that SNEY faced a fair and sustainable position in the local health economy.

A key principle behind this policy was the agreed retention of an A&E Department at Scarborough, and this gives that hospital the status of a District General Hospital that is so vital for East Coast and Ryedale residents. A discussion about any options for change in this status is totally unacceptable, as public consultations took place that reflected that commitment by all parties. The effect on local residents, patients and staff is quite unacceptable, and everyone should resist such a change. The Midwifery led maternity unit is another success story for SNEY, and any threats to this service should also be resisted.

Both the PCT and SHA are due for abolition at March 31, 2013, and their contracting role will be undertaken by several GP led commissioning groups in Yorkshire. I feel that it is a bad policy for these organisations to commence their activities with an indebted disadvantage, and the correct action would be for the Department of Health to write off any such inherited debt, so that PCTs do not engage in the type of panic solutions currently under discussion. Failure to do so is a constant cause of future financial difficulty and variation in equality of health care provision, by successor organisations.

Sir Michael Carlisle

St Ovin