Hospital group hits out at PCT

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WHITBY Hospital Action Group (WHAG) has responded to the decision to again close operating theatres at Whitby and Malton hospitals last month.

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust shut down the operating theatres on 16 June, leaving residents and the action group with many unanswered questions.

A statement from WHAG said: “The primary care trust (PCT) stated that they had received money from the NHS capital funding for the specific purpose of updating the theatres in Whitby.

“So what was it used for? Surely this is misleading the public?”

The operating theatres were first closed last year, until proposed work to improve the facility and bring it in line with Care Quality Commission standards was completed.

The trust had unveiled a plan to invest £350,000-£500,000 in Whitby Hospital’s operating theatres, but last month the PCT admitted to not using the money for improvements, stating that there would not be enough usage to justify the costs.

Sue Metcalfe, deputy chief executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, said in June: “While developing that business case, it was collectively agreed that the levels of activity within the theatres would not support the investment.

“It was also around this time the PCT was experiencing severe financial challenges and therefore the business case was not pursued for these two reasons.”

WHAG added it was worrying that despite the work not being completed, theatres were still carrying out operations.

They added: “How could they do this without telling the patients and doctors who performed the operations that the work to bring the theatres up to safe standards had not been carried out?

“Who did the risk assessment to allow the theatres to reopen?

“Why were the theatres shut again so suddenly on 16 June 2011?

“WHAG was informed it was due to the very same problem of last year, however the PCT still allowed operations to take place on the very day that the theatres were shut.

“WHAG feels that patients and doctors having to work under these shifting conditions should be supported with a voice.”

Jayne Brown, chief executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, said: “We recognise the strength of feeling in the local community about Whitby Hospital but we can only proceed with large scale investment if we can demonstrate value for money.

“We have agreed with Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Healthcare Trust that we will complete an assessment of investment for the theatre and publish the decision within three months.

“Any investment needs to be considered as part of a wider discussion about the future of all health services in Whitby.”