A HEALTH watchdog has taken the unusual step of accusing an NHS trust of misleading a council and is set to issue health bosses with a letter of complaint.

Ahead of raising its concerns before a full meeting of North Yorkshire County Council, the authority’s scrutiny of health committee said Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Trust had failed to give correct information to councillors examining major changes to mental health provision.

Councillors fear changes to in-patient bed provision will mean in future patients from many areas of North Yorkshire will face having to travel to hospitals in the Tees Valley for treatment.

The committee’s chairman Councillor Jim Clark said the trust’s chief executive Colin Martin had been left to explain why it had been stated there would be no loss of mental health in-patient beds as a result of wards closing.

He said: “It now looks as if we will have to take Harrogate patients to Darlington or to Middlesbrough, but that is yet to be decided.

“It is important that the NHS takes scrutiny of health seriously and that they should be as transparent as possible. It is not acceptable that we have a situation where nationally there is millions of pounds being spent on mental health, not before time, and yet there are beds being cut in Harrogate and Northallerton.”

In response, a spokesperson for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Conversations will continue in the months ahead with people across Harrogate and Rural District, working particularly closely with service users and their families and carers, as well as our partners including North Yorkshire County Council to further develop the proposals.”