HEALTH bosses are to hold a series of seven public meetings across Hambleton and Richmondshire to discuss plans to shake up older people’s health and social care services.

People aged over 65 account for about 70 per cent of all health care spending in the area at the moment and that is expected to increase significantly by 2021.

NHS officials say that services for older people have to change and evolve to meet the expected huge increase in demand, with cash being switched away from acute hospitals to community care closer to people’s homes.

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The outline proposals to reconfigure community health and social care services, known as 'Fit 4 the Future', have been drawn up by Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group.

Described as a “vision and case for change”, the 24-page document is based on feedback from patients, carers and partner organisations.

Depending on the response to it, the CCG will need to decide the extent to which a shift of resources is required from acute hospital care to local community services.

CCG members will also have to decide on the exact arrangement of community hospitals, bearing in mind there are two community facilities in Hambleton - the Rutson unit in the Friarage Hospital and the Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk – compared to only one in Richmond (The Friary).

GPs will also look at the potential to commission single providers for intermediate (short-term interventions) and community care.

Once the round of meetings is complete the CCG will draw up formal commissioning proposals.

This could involve decommissioning some services that are not fully effective and commissioning other community services closer to people’s homes.

The proposals could also involve ‘testing the market’ to see if alternative providers are able to deliver services in new ways. This could include charities, the voluntary sector or the private sector.

Any of the proposals which constitute ‘significant change’ will involve formal public consultation.

Dr Mark Hodgson, the Aldbrough St John GP who is leading the project, said: “The only certainty is that with an ever increasing frail elderly population and the health needs associated with this, services cannot remain as they are.”

He said the CCG had a “great opportunity” to improve services.

Engagement events lasting two hours are being held at the following venues: Stokesley Methodist Church Hall (March 18, 4pm), Richmond Town Hall (March 20, 4pm), Bedale Hall (March 25, 10am), Northallerton Golden Lion Hotel (March 26, 6pm), Yorkshire Dales Museum, Hawes (March 27, 6pm), Thirsk Rural Arts (April 1, 10am), Leyburn Methodiest Church Hall (April 8, 10am).

Further information and an online survey can be found at