Suggestions for a walk in health facility on the east side of town have been rubbished by the local MP who warns it would be the beginning of the end for Whitby Hospital.
Robert Goodwill, MP for Whitby and Scarborough, said there was a case for such a facility in a part of town where people have “chaotic” lifestyles but it would lead to dumbing down of services at the hospital and eventual closure.
There has been talk over the last couple of years about a new purpose built hospital reflecting modern needs of the local population but Mr Goodwill maintains Whitby not having its own hospital would be “over his dead body”.
He spoke to the Gazette after the concept of a walk-in centre was raised at a health meeting and by a local constituent.
He said: “On the east side, health care is less accessible but I would strongly oppose moving in that direction.
“It would provide an excuse to close Whitby Hospital as they will just say put more services in the walk-in centre and it undermines the existing GP practices. People think because they are open on a Saturday they will register there.”
The answer is, he said, for GPs to become more flexible but argues it would be better to be pro-active rather than reactive in relation to health issues associated with the east side.
He added: “On the east side people don’t register with a GP so they are not getting regular access to check ups and screening or vaccinations.
“I see the need for a campaign to get patients to register to go for flu jabs and check ups, particularly those that lead chaotic lifestyles, itinerant workers or people that would not go to a surgery, but the answer is to get them to register and talk about obesity and other health related lifestyle issues.
“A walk-in is ambitious and does not address the problems with health inequalities that affect people on the east side of Whitby.”
Mr Goodwill has, however, backed the idea for a seasonal walk in on the sea front to treat tourists for minor ailments which would take some pressure off local doctors and the hospital.
He added: “First aid on the sea front is something that in summer would be helpful like when kids stand on some glass, people get sun stroke or the elderly take ill.”
Mr Goodwill’s comments about walk-ins and the hospital come as the group of doctors now responsible for providing healthcare in Whitby says its biggest expenditure is hospital based.
The Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) took over the management of local health services from the primary care trust last month - but also took on £1.8 million worth of its debt.
It revealed that in order to combat that and work within a tight budget it is having to re-assess how and what it provides, as 54% of its spending is on hospital services and 23% on prescribing medication.
Seven key areas have been identified as priorities, which include improving care in the community services to try and reduce hospital admissions and the length of patient stays and costs surrounding that.
A spokesperson said: “We are also working closely with colleagues in social care to ensure that if someone does need to go into hospital for treatment, there are suitable community services in place to ensure they can return home as soon as they are clinically well enough to do so.”