PCT to hand over control of hospital

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THE PRIMARY Care Trust (PCT) is set to hand over the running of Whitby Hospital to health bosses at York Hospital in a shock move announced this week.

The devolution of power from NHS North Yorkshire and York to a consortium of GPs has been met with mixed reaction from patient groups and politicians.

Changes will come into effect from 1 April and services at Whitby Hospital will be taken over by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

A statement released by the PCT yesterday said the project was called ‘Transforming Community Services’ which “aims to improve standards of health care”.

Coun John Blackie, vice-chairman of the scrutiny of health committee at North Yorkshire County Council, knew the move was in the pipeline but was not aware it had been given the go-ahead

He said: “This is not what the people of Whitby want, they want it to go to James Cook.

“It is closer to Whitby than York and it is a very good hospital, there is no doubt about that. There should be public pressure to make that happen.”

Whitby MP Robert Goodwill was also surprised the transition was taking place so soon.

He told the Gazette: “I am surprised it is happening so soon but that is the long-term aim of the new government.”

Mr Goodwill supports the merger saying it takes power away from “unelected PCT bureaucrats” and places it back in the hands of local doctors.

They will decide which hospital to send patients to for further treatment which could mean services come back to Whitby Hospital.

He added: “Under the new NHS contracts, if Whitby is providing excellent services there is no reason why local GPs won’t send patients there.

“In the past the PCT has decided where patients should be treated. If we had the system five or six years ago GPs would send their patients to Whitby Hospital and it would have stayed open because the money would have been following them.”

However, Whitby Hospital Action Group (WHAG) say there has been no consultation and are concerned families and patients will struggle to get to York with cuts in bus services and train times not fitting in with visiting hours.

They added that Whitby was being “ignored and discriminated against” and should have the same access to treatment as Harrogate and York.

Sue Metcalfe, deputy chief executive of the PCT, said it was about a change of management, not services and there had been “an extensive programme of engagement with staff, partners and colleagues”.