PROPOSALS have been drawn up for the future of the Friarage Hospital – but authorities are not revealing what they are.

The draft business case drawn up by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following a public consultation process will be passed to other health bodies for approval before being made public.

The document includes the preferred clinical model for the hospital in Northallerton.

It will go to NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who will use it to produce a full businesses case for the Friarage, which will include proposals and options for future service models.

It will then be reviewed by NHS England before any public consultation takes place on proposed changes to services.

A spokesperson for the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust explained that the recommendations in the report would not be made public, as the CCG may wish to reject the proposals, pursue a different path for the hospital, or adjust certain aspects of the NHS trust’s business plan.

She said for the same reason, predicting a timescale for when the plans for the future of the hospital will be made public was also difficult to calculate, depending on how much additional work and research the CCG felt was needed.

In recent years there has been concerns voiced about the hospital’s capacity to treat seriously ill patients or provide emergency care, due to problems in recruiting critical care doctors and a lack of anaesthetic cover at the hospital.

In a stakeholder update, the South Tees Hospitals NHS trust stated: “We have been looking at alternative future scenarios for delivering sustainable services at the Friarage, taking into account the requirements of the community and feedback from our engagement programme, whilst addressing our workforce issues. These challenges are ongoing, particularly in the provision of overnight anaesthetic cover, critical care and accident and emergency.”

South Tees Hospitals Trust compiled the report, Building a Sustainable Future for the Friarage, during a period of engagement between October 4 and December 20 last year.

It involved consulting with staff, patients, the public, local authorities, community and voluntary sector organisations and other bodies.

An engagement report stated that in the majority of public meetings, the biggest issue raised was the difficulty many had in travelling to Middlesbrough’s James Cook University Hospital from parts of North Yorkshire, particularly areas with a lack of public transport.

It especially affected people with early morning appointments, those who had children who needed to be collected or taken to school, and older drivers not confident in driving around unfamiliar places.