Specialist Lawyers Apply For Judicial Review Into ‘Extremely Worrying’ Decision To Suspend Hospital Services For Rural Communities
Specialist lawyers representing campaigners battling the suspension of accident and emergency services at The Friarage hospital have officially launched High Court legal action to overturn the ‘extremely worrying’ decision.
South Tees NHS Foundation Trust downgraded the Northallerton hospital to suspend A & E services and replace it with an urgent care treatment centre last week. Hospital management said the move was because of issues including the recruitment of doctors and anaesthetists.
However, the campaign group Save Friarage Hospital has warned that the changes could have a significant impact, not only on services at the site but also at other hospitals in the area.
The group has instructed specialist public law experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the situation. Lawyers at national law firm Irwin Mitchell have now applied to the High Court for a judicial review to be held into the legality of the suspension of NHS services.
The legal team has vast experience in this field, having successfully helped other campaign groups to save local care and hospital services in regions across the country.
Expert Opinion“The group is extremely worried by recent events related to The Friarage and after looking into its concerns we consider that there is clear merit in the decision-making process regarding the suspension to be reviewed.
“This issue goes beyond the pure health services on offer in Northallerton, as the suspension would undoubtedly affect Ambulance services, other local hospitals and the rural communities in a number of different ways. There has been no formal public consultation. With this in mind, our client’s believe there is a need to re instate the hospital services and revisit the original decision.
“We appreciate that the NHS faces difficult challenges, but it is clear that any decision on the future of services must always put the best interests of patients first and follow a fair process.” Helen Smith - Associate Solicitor
The Save Friarage Hospital group is concerned that the suspension of A&E services at the site will mean the loss of hospital beds in the emergency ward and intensive treatment unit beds. There is a risk that there will be an adverse impact on other hospital services at The Friarage that rely on critical care services.
Campaigners are also worried that the move will have a knock-on effect for James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Darlington Memorial Hospital, as patients would often be diverted to The Friarage when those sites are at capacity. The distance from The Friarage Hospital to these alternative hospitals is over 14 and 24 miles.
Holly Wilkinson of the Save Friarage Hospital Group said: “This decision is just the latest in a long line of cuts made to The Friarage since it merged with South Tees in 2002, but we think this one is simply a step too far.
“We believe this suspension of A & E services could put lives at risk and we have been left with no choice but to instruct Irwin Mitchell. We want to have our voices heard on this issue and now believe that legal action is the only way forward on the matter.
“We would be hugely grateful if anyone who feels as strongly as we do could join our campaign, share information and their experiences.”
The campaigners have set up a crowdfunding page to help fund their case. For more information visit https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/savethefriarage/
For more on the campaign visit:
https://www.crowdjustice.com/ search for Save The Friarage Hospital