MP hits out at care trust’s patient stats

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THE Primary Care Trust that operates Whitby Hospital may be fixing the evidence to fit their decision not to invest in the facility, according to local MP Robert Goodwill.

In a letter to Robert Goodwill, sent on 12 July, chief executive of North Yorkshire and York PCT Jayne Brown justified the decision not to invest in the hospital by stating that in the six weeks before the current closure, the Whitby theatre treated just 120 people.

This equates to around 1,040 patients per year.

However, Mr Goodwill also received details stating that in the four weeks between 8 March and 2 April last year, 171 cases were treated.

This equates to around 2,223 cases per year, almost twice as many as the PCT had quoted.

Mr Goodwill said: “Whether they had been scaling down the level of operations prior to the closure, I don’t know.

“It seems to me that there’s a big discrepancy and they should face up to the fact that demand for operations is much greater than they are telling us.

“It’s almost as if they’ve made up their mind that they aren’t going to update the hospital and they are making the cost and the level of operations fit that decision they’ve made.”

Amanda Brown is the locality director at NHS North Yorkshire and York for Hambleton and Richmondshire district, which now also incorporates Whitby.

Despite the differing statistics, she defended the decision to close the theatre, and said: “Both figures quoted are a snapshot of activity at two different points in time.

“The number of theatre procedures recorded in March and April 2010 may still not justify investment.

“At present, over half of the patients referred for planned treatment are choosing to go to South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, who do not perform theatre procedures in Whitby.

“As this proportion appears to be growing, the demand for services in Whitby is consequently reducing.”

The cost of bringing Whitby theatre back up to scratch was detailed in a 2010 report by a professional services firm named Turner and Townsend, but Mr Goodwill added that the lack of transparency with health management is casting further doubt in the PCT’s dealings.

He said: “We really do need to get the operating theatre back up and running and if they’re being disingenuous about the number of operations, are they also being over the top with the cost of bringing them up to standard?

“We don’t seem to have any democratic accountability in local health management.

“We don’t actually elect these people and so people are thinking, why do we have MPs who aren’t in a position to affect the decisions the PCT make?”

Mr Goodwill also pledged his support for the Whitby Hospital Action Group, who are awaiting the PCT’s response to a dossier which including nine questions they feel are pivotal to uncover what is taking place at the hospital.

The MP said: “I think WHAG are very tenacious campaigners for Whitby hospital and I think they’re like ferrets shaking a rat.

“They won’t give up and they go at it head on and are very forthright and to the point.”