Group ‘insulted’ by hospital response

THE PRESSURE group which is fighting to safeguard the future of Whitby Hospital has received a response to its ‘nine questions’, and has described themselves as “disappointed and insulted”.

Whitby Hospital Action Group sent nine questions to North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust in order to find out what was taking place at the community hospital.

They recently received a response from Jayne Brown, NYYPCT’s chief executive, and WHAG spokesperson Sarah Wyatt said: “When you think of what went in to the questions, there were 11 pages of well-thought out questions and 59 pages of evidence, and these answers here are just vacuous.

“The WHAG membership was firstly disappointed and secondly insulted that so much evidence was simply ignored.

“They have put this community at risk and they have not given a factual or convincing answer.

“The PCT need to know that if they don’t answer these questions they will never get the trust of the people of Whitby.”

In the concluding statement, Mrs Brown said: “I cannot agree with the statement that the PCT has treated the people of Whitby and the Esk Valley with contempt.

“The proposals put forward last year were intended to secure safe and local services for the people of Whitby and Esk Valley and those who use services in the area, who come from further afield.”

Ownership of Whitby Hospital will transfer to York Foundation Trust in 2013, but Ms Wyatt said that the PCT must still be held to account right up until the point where they relinquish control.

She added: “People say to me the PCT will be gone in 2013, well my God that still gives them until then to wreak havoc.

“You can’t give them £1.2bn of public money per year and just say ‘well they will be gone soon’.

“A tiger is at its most dangerous at its end and if we are not like a dog with a bone then we deserve everything we get.”

The 70-page dossier sent to the PCT also asked questions about the closure of the theatres and loss of clinics, but Ms Wyatt added “I actually think there’s powerful evidence to call them in for misleading the public”.

She highlighted the results of two reports that appear to suggest Whitby Hospital theatres could have remained open if the primary care trust just applied a bit of “elbow grease”.

“In April 2010 the theatres were tested in the same situation”, she said, “and they scored very highly.”

The environment testing report of May 2011, which has been seen by the Gazette, does not indicate any need for the emergency closure of the theatres, instead suggesting that the suite “requires cleaning and retesting”.

“The question is what was actually happening in the theatres between April 2010 and May 2011 when there was between £350,000 and £500,000 of public money available to sort the theatres, so why allow this disaster to happen?”

However, Ms Wyatt did highlight a desire from the PCT to begin a constructive dialogue with WHAG and the people of Whitby.

She said: “When we were at the scrutiny of health meeting they really wanted to move forward, but you can’t build firm foundations of trust until you have agreed the point of origin for the development of the next relationship and it doesn’t clear the fact that they haven’t answered these questions.”