HEALTH chiefs are stepping up efforts to recruit doctors to staff a hospital's under-threat A&E and critical care services

Following the intervention of Richmond MP Rishi Sunak, they have developed a new recruitment campaign targeting doctors internationally to fill long-standing vacancies for anaesthetists and emergency/critical care specialist doctors.

Mr Sunak wrote to the chief executive of the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Siobhan McArdle, following a meeting with her and also with the doctors and nurses working at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

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In reply Mrs McArdle said the trust has been advertising vacant posts for over a year but with only limited success - but it has now drawn up a revised, more targeted recruitment campaign to recruit from the UK but also overseas.

It is taking stands at medical conferences in Edinburgh later this month, in Liverpool in September and London in November.

A digital media campaign and careers micro website, running alongside adverts and video links to the jobs section of the British Medical Journal website, will reach doctors around the world.

Doctors in Holland, Italy, Spain and Greece – which have a higher proportion of trained anaesthetists per head of population – would be specifically targeted, she said.

Mr Sunak said: "I find it hard to understand why we can't find doctors to work at the Friarage. It is a small hospital but it is located in a beautiful part of the world and the existing staff love working there.

"I welcome the trust's efforts to broaden the search for staff and we all hope for a good response."

Meanwhile, support has come from three local authorities whose residents use the Friarage.

Hambleton District Council leader Mark Robson said he fully supported the campaign to retain the existing services at the hospital.

“The Friarage is a vitally important hospital for a large part of North Yorkshire and we want to see these acute services maintained in Northallerton where it is a major employer,” he said.

“As a local authority serving the public, we understand the challenges the health service faces but these particular services are central to what the Friarage is. “Without the consultants and middle and lower grade doctors that staff these services, there will be a lot less acute medicine and that will change the nature of the hospital.”

Support has also come from North Yorkshire County Council. The executive member covering health, Cllr Caroline Dickinson, said: "I fully support the hospital's managers and Rishi in trying to get these posts filled so that we sustain high-quality services in the local area."

Richmondshire District Council has also unanimously supported a motion backing the hospital campaign.