THE Conservative parliamentary candidate for Richmondshire has pledged to continue his fight for 24-hour emergency care at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton if he is re-elected for a third term.

But opposition parliamentary candidates have since claimed his government has “starved” the hospital of funding leading to the closure of its A&E department, earlier this year.

Rishi Sunak, who was re-elected the MP for Richmond, Northallerton and Great Ayton in the 2017 General Election, promised to “press for the retention” in his campaign for round-the-clock emergency care at the hospital.

Pledging to retain a 24-hour urgent treatment centre, he said: “I hope residents will join me in pressing for the retention of the 24-hour urgent treatment centre option which has been running successfully for the last eight months.

The Northern Echo:

“The urgent treatment centre, linked to a consultant-led front-of-house admissions unit, has seen 90 percent of the patients previously treated at an A&E unit which health chiefs were unable to safely staff.

“We now have an innovative emergency care service at the hospital that’s treating the vast majority of patients who used to attend the old A&E.

“It is also treating many more children because the A&E did not meet the clinical standards to treat all sick children.

“But people rightly want the reassurance that it will continue to be available round the clock, seven days a week.”

The Northern Echo:

But Labour candidate Thom Kirkwood accused Mr Sunak of electioneering and blamed a decision scrapping A&E at the Friarage in March on Government cuts.

He told The Northern Echo: “Mr Sunak does not seem to have shown any interest in the fight to save the Friarage until it became an election issue for him.

“It is his government that has starved the Friarage of funding and reorganised the NHS along top-down structures that are taking away local services.

“The people of Richmondshire and Northallerton will see this last-minute conversion for the political stunt that it is – his actions speak louder than his empty words.

“Labour will restore the decent funding that the NHS needs to keep the 24-hour urgent treatment centre at the Friarage viable.”

Also standing for Richmondshire, Green Party candidate John Yorke said it seemed “unreasonable” to trust the Conservative’s with “any part of the NHS" after Mr Sunak's announcement.

He said: "Theresa May (former Conservative Prime Minister) created the hostile environment which made many overseas NHS staff feel unwelcome in the UK.

“It seems unreasonable to trust the conservative party with any part of the NHS, as their record indicates they do not value the NHS."

The Northern Echo:

The Liberal Democrats' candidate Philip Knowles said the area had lost the only A&E department under Mr Sunak's "watch".

He said: "Why should we compromise with a second class service when it comes to our rural hospitals. In addition, the NHS workforce is in crisis.

"Since the last election we have lost the only A&E department in our vast rural constituency and all the adult mental health inpatient beds – all on Mr Sunak’s watch.

"The Liberal Democrats are the only party that are backing up their pledges around healthcare with a clear plan on how to pay for it and a workforce strategy to solve the recruitment gaps."

The Yorkshire Party’s candidate Laurence Waterhouse said the Conservative’s approach to the Friarage was about money and not service.

He said: “It’s about the people of North Yorkshire having the same safe access to emergency care services as they do in other areas in the UK.

“I know first-hand how difficult it is to access quality services when you live in a rural community – I don’t agree with the rationalisation of services which effectively about money not service.”

On Thursday, standing independently, Nick Jardine submitted a letter to the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG urging it to retain 24-hour care.

He said: “The ease of access to this vital service should be of the greatest concern and by removing it from the Friarage it places an unacceptably high burden on patients forced to travel further afield.”

Mr Sunak said he welcomed a pledge from health secretary, Matt Hancock, to improve and maintain services at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

He added: "The Memorial is a very important hospital for northern North Yorkshire, so it is very good to hear the Secretary of State make that commitment."

  • The 2019 General Election takes place on December 12.