Hague's Friarage Hospital protest pledge

The Northern Echo: William Hague at the head of a march through Northallerton in protest at the proposed changes at the Friarage Hospital William Hague at the head of a march through Northallerton in protest at the proposed changes at the Friarage Hospital

WILLIAM HAGUE has pledged to continue pressing the Health Secretary to maintain key services at a general hospital after leading a massive protest march involving about 4,000 people.

The Foreign Secretary and Richmondshire MP would appear to be at loggerheads with Cabinet colleague Andrew Lansley. Mr Hague told The Northern Echo he has held four meetings with Mr Lansley, during which he said he has stressed that recommendations to downgrade maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, were “unacceptable”.

Mr Hague said his Cabinet colleague wanted details about why the hospital – which serves 122,000 residents spread across a rural area of 1,000 square miles – should be treated as a unique case and have its services preserved.

Mr Hague said: “Andrew Lansley wants us to see if there are alternative solutions.”

Organisers of the protest said more than 2,000 people signalled their anger at NHS bosses at the rally outside county hall, with about 2,000 more joining the protest march through town. Richmondshire District Council leader John Blackie, who co-organised the rally, described the turnout as “fantastic” and said families who had been unable to attend Saturday’s rally because of the heat, joined the march to send “a very loud, very clear and compelling message to the NHS to maintain services”.

Following discussions with Mr Hague, Coun Blackie said he believed the decision over the services’ future would be influenced by Cabinet politicians, as well as by the huge grassroots support.

“There is a will now within the NHS and a will from politicians at the highest level that a solution must be found,” he said. “William Hague is not going to put his reputation on the line unless he thinks the arguments we are putting forward are strong.”

Mr Hague, who was warmly welcomed by the majority of protestors, delivered a passionate defence of the hospital’s services from a balcony at County Hall, saying he regularly received letters from constituents detailing outstanding treatment there.

He was cheered after calling for the NHS to not only abandon the proposals, but to set out “a detailed, clear and sincere vision for the hospital’s future” before telling protestors it was their right to have their babies born in Yorkshire.

Representing the Public and Commercial Services Union, Lorna Garrick, of Scotton, near Catterick Garrison, was among a small group of protesters who said they wished Mr Hague had not turned up.

She said: “I would rather he admitted that the cuts were causing this to happen. It is a PR exercise for him.”

Officials at the 200-bed hospital, which takes in the North York Moors and the Yorkshire dales to the borders of York and Darlington, are proposing to downgrade inpatient children’s services to a day unit and turn a full-service maternity department into a midwife- led birthing unit. It followed a visit by independent experts who warned the current arrangements were unsustainable because of acute medical staffing shortages.

Without consultant paediatricians on duty at weekends and evenings, only straightforward births could be handled by a new midwife-led maternity unit, leading to a likely fall in deliveries from about 1,200 a year to about 500.

Mothers at higher risk or who prefer a consultant-led unit would have to go to either The James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, Darlington Memorial Hospital, Harrogate District Hospital or York Hospital.

The rally was told 3,100 residents had joined a Facebook group fighting the proposals and more than 10,000 people – including more than 700 from the area surrounding Marske, near Richmond – had signed a petition calling for the rentention of services.

Other speakers included mother-of-six Amanda Livingstone- Owen, of Ravenseat, Upper Swaledale, who said: “If we are to be expected to travel 70 miles to James Cook hospital, birth plans will have to involve a lot of road numbers.”

Lisa Nelson, of the National Childbirth Trust, said that while the families of children requiring inpatient services would be hardest hit by the proposed changes, a midwifeled maternity service would mean “terrifying ordeals” for women requiring emergency transfers.

Despite it being a protest event, there was a carnivallike atmosphere, with performances by Northallerton Silver Band, marchers banging drums and the town’s Saturday market came to a standstill as the High Street filled with marchers.

Mr Hague appeared relaxed as he chatted with constituents during the march, before posing for photographs and eating an ice cream when campaigners arrived at Bullamoor Memorial Park.

Emily Durkin, of Colburn, near Catterick, said she had attended with her children, Marcus, five, and Lyndon, two, who she gave birth to at the Friarage, to tell decisionmakers moving the services to Middlesbrough would cause distress.

Susan Stead and Brenda Sharpe, of Northallerton, who worked as healthcare assistants at the Friarage for 38 and 35 years respectively, said they were appalled by the plans.

Mrs Sharpe said: “It seems as though they are going back to the 1800s and everyone will have to have their babies at home.”

Disabled Michael Pearson, 51, of Romanby, who took part in the rally in his wheelchair, said he feared the removal of services at the Friarage would precede many others until the hospital closed completely in about four years.

Comments (4)

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9:11am Mon 28 May 12

jabdc5, the land that's still trying to recover from the last tory government. says...

oh oh Hague's lips are moving again, we all know what that means
oh oh Hague's lips are moving again, we all know what that means jabdc5, the land that's still trying to recover from the last tory government.
  • Score: 0

4:19pm Wed 30 May 12

suecurry says...

I disagree with jabdc5 above. If you saw the man, look at the pictures - he is worried he knows these hospital directors have got it wrong and he isn't minister for health - so it isn't in his remit.

Ministers rarely go out against policy - OK this is local not national NHS policy but the two should be related shouldn't they?

Most of the health monies have moved from country areas to the nearest town under the last Labour government. The Friarage is probably the most extreme example.

Stuart Minting has given a typical bosses reply at the link below if you care to read it.

http://www.thenorthe
rnecho.co.uk/news/97
31463.Health_bosses_
take_note_of_Friarag
e_Hospital_plans_ang
er/

Sorry directors of Jame Cook - you need a vision and you need to think again.

What do we pay these fat cats well Simon Pleydell gets £205,000 per annum. He has had this for 9 or 10 years. That is 2,000,000 quid. The directors got £5m over the same period.

What did the public get - as we say in Yorkshire - NOWT

So to finally answer jabdc5 you got it wrong.

As a country we always seem to be bust under labour, all the country's resources are concentrated to the towns. there are many people who live in the country and guess what they need hospitals to.
I disagree with jabdc5 above. If you saw the man, look at the pictures - he is worried he knows these hospital directors have got it wrong and he isn't minister for health - so it isn't in his remit. Ministers rarely go out against policy - OK this is local not national NHS policy but the two should be related shouldn't they? Most of the health monies have moved from country areas to the nearest town under the last Labour government. The Friarage is probably the most extreme example. Stuart Minting has given a typical bosses reply at the link below if you care to read it. http://www.thenorthe rnecho.co.uk/news/97 31463.Health_bosses_ take_note_of_Friarag e_Hospital_plans_ang er/ Sorry directors of Jame Cook - you need a vision and you need to think again. What do we pay these fat cats well Simon Pleydell gets £205,000 per annum. He has had this for 9 or 10 years. That is 2,000,000 quid. The directors got £5m over the same period. What did the public get - as we say in Yorkshire - NOWT So to finally answer jabdc5 you got it wrong. As a country we always seem to be bust under labour, all the country's resources are concentrated to the towns. there are many people who live in the country and guess what they need hospitals to. suecurry
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Wed 30 May 12

loonyleft says...

The country was deep in debt in,97 , at the end of the labour goverment iff they hadnt taken us into debt to stop the banks going bust you wouldnt have to worry about youre local hospital youd be scrapping arround for something to eat. Tell hague to take a loo k at what his own collegues in the cabinate are doing to the health service they are the ones in power now!
The country was deep in debt in,97 , at the end of the labour goverment iff they hadnt taken us into debt to stop the banks going bust you wouldnt have to worry about youre local hospital youd be scrapping arround for something to eat. Tell hague to take a loo k at what his own collegues in the cabinate are doing to the health service they are the ones in power now! loonyleft
  • Score: 0

7:01pm Wed 30 May 12

suecurry says...

Hi again loonyleft

Excuse me if I pick my word carefully but we are dealing with powerful people some of whom seem to be unscrupulous, some who seem to be disconnected from reality.

Yes I agree the Tories took over in 97 from labour and the country was bust - it sounds very similar to now doesn't it.

It took the Tories around five years to turn it round? We have a coalition government now not a Tory government. I don't know if that means they can turn it round in 2 or 20 years!

The coalition have only just started looking at health. Like banks, the economy and so on they weren't given something that was working very well by the previous government.

The Tories have no control over NHS Foundation Trusts - they are run by an executive established by labour. Most serving Tories voted against the establishment of NHS Trusts, too much power in the hands of few people. NHS foundation trusts are an undemocratic, monopolistic, autocratic use of public money. Only labour could invent that.

The executive at James Cook were well supported by labour with many ministerial visits. Labour continue to support them. See the untrue propaganda on the net put there by a serving labour MP

http://tomblenkinsop
.com/2012/04/16/mill
ions-wasted-by-nhs-r
eorganisation-and-re
dundancy-costs-in-so
uth-teesside-tom-ble
nkinsop/

I checked there have been no redundancies. This labour MP publishes untruths on the net! What is it that someone did for him that he will go on the record with such an untruth. More likely it is to put pressure on the Government to support his Trust.

I didn't know until reading all the missives here that under labour health monies were moved from conservative areas to labour areas. No wonder Mr Hague is on the streets, he can not change what has been, he can however influence the future.

The union was there to influence the future in the same direction, 4000 on the streets of Northallerton and 9100 names on a petition. If that isn't enough to change labour policies (remember most policies in place are still labour policies) then we will have to wait until the next election to see if the country prefers to stay with a coalition, wishes to return to labour or the country needs a Tory government. It isn't so far away now is it?

Your last point was mentioned on Saturday - while Mr Hague seems to run many things in this country he isn't in charge of that area of government, is he?

Now we live in a democracy once again I have to say I value that as much as food & water and health care free at a very convenient point of delivery . Not somewhere which means I have a 100 mile round trip! These hospital directors and GPs have 4x4 vehicles most of the mothers to be don't have very much at all and certainly not transport that is reliable all weather. A pregnant woman surely can not be expected to use public transport for check ups, false starts to hospital and so on, can they?

Hopefully this government will introduce more health at home health in the community. It is needed not only needed in rural areas for pregnant women it is also need across the country for the growing number elderly in our society. In other countries they have hospital at home, that keeps people out of hospital who don't need to be there. Hospitals should be for the sick shouldn't they?
Hi again loonyleft Excuse me if I pick my word carefully but we are dealing with powerful people some of whom seem to be unscrupulous, some who seem to be disconnected from reality. Yes I agree the Tories took over in 97 from labour and the country was bust - it sounds very similar to now doesn't it. It took the Tories around five years to turn it round? We have a coalition government now not a Tory government. I don't know if that means they can turn it round in 2 or 20 years! The coalition have only just started looking at health. Like banks, the economy and so on they weren't given something that was working very well by the previous government. The Tories have no control over NHS Foundation Trusts - they are run by an executive established by labour. Most serving Tories voted against the establishment of NHS Trusts, too much power in the hands of few people. NHS foundation trusts are an undemocratic, monopolistic, autocratic use of public money. Only labour could invent that. The executive at James Cook were well supported by labour with many ministerial visits. Labour continue to support them. See the untrue propaganda on the net put there by a serving labour MP http://tomblenkinsop .com/2012/04/16/mill ions-wasted-by-nhs-r eorganisation-and-re dundancy-costs-in-so uth-teesside-tom-ble nkinsop/ I checked there have been no redundancies. This labour MP publishes untruths on the net! What is it that someone did for him that he will go on the record with such an untruth. More likely it is to put pressure on the Government to support his Trust. I didn't know until reading all the missives here that under labour health monies were moved from conservative areas to labour areas. No wonder Mr Hague is on the streets, he can not change what has been, he can however influence the future. The union was there to influence the future in the same direction, 4000 on the streets of Northallerton and 9100 names on a petition. If that isn't enough to change labour policies (remember most policies in place are still labour policies) then we will have to wait until the next election to see if the country prefers to stay with a coalition, wishes to return to labour or the country needs a Tory government. It isn't so far away now is it? Your last point was mentioned on Saturday - while Mr Hague seems to run many things in this country he isn't in charge of that area of government, is he? Now we live in a democracy once again I have to say I value that as much as food & water and health care free at a very convenient point of delivery . Not somewhere which means I have a 100 mile round trip! These hospital directors and GPs have 4x4 vehicles most of the mothers to be don't have very much at all and certainly not transport that is reliable all weather. A pregnant woman surely can not be expected to use public transport for check ups, false starts to hospital and so on, can they? Hopefully this government will introduce more health at home health in the community. It is needed not only needed in rural areas for pregnant women it is also need across the country for the growing number elderly in our society. In other countries they have hospital at home, that keeps people out of hospital who don't need to be there. Hospitals should be for the sick shouldn't they? suecurry
  • Score: 0

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