Campaigners battling against the suspension of accident and emergency services at The Friarage hospital in Northallerton have been granted permission to challenge the decision in the High Court.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took the step to temporarily suspend A&E services at the hospital and to replace this with an urgent care treatment centre at the end of March, with Trust management claiming it was due to problems with the recruitment of key staff including doctors and anaesthetists.
However, the Save Friarage Hospital group launched a legal campaign against the move, arguing that the decision could have a major impact both in the community and also on services at other nearby hospitals.
This led campaigners to instruct Irwin Mitchell’s Public Law team to investigate the situation. At start of April lawyers applied for a judicial review to be held in the High Court into the legality of the suspension of A & E services.
Now, following a hearing held in Leeds today (June 11th), the group and their lawyers have been granted permission to continue with their legal battle.
A judicial review hearing will take place in late July 2019.
Expert Opinion“Our clients have long-held concerns regarding the suspension of A&E services at The Friarage and we strongly believe that the process used to come to such conclusions should be reviewed.
“There are a host of extremely worrying factors regarding this move, particularly in how it may have a major impact across the region as a whole. While we appreciate the NHS is facing difficult challenges at present, it is vital that any decisions are always made with the best interests of patients in mind and there is appropriate consultation with the public and other stakeholders.
“Our clients does not want be in this position but feel that they have little option because of how they feel the Trust and CCG have made these changes to hospital services without appreciating the full impact.
“It is welcome that the judicial review will proceed and we are determined to work with our clients to ensure that their voices are heard on this very serious matter.” Helen Smith - Solicitor
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The Save Friarage Hospital Campaign group state that the temporary suspension of A&E service at The Friarage has led to the loss of hospital beds in both the emergency ward and the intensive treatment unit.
It is also concerned the move will have a particular impact on both the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and the Darlington Memorial Hospital – sites which would often divert patients to The Friarage when they are at capacity.
Holly Wilkinson of the Save Friarage Hospital group added: “One of the most concerning aspects of this recent move is that it could potentially put lives at risk – and that is simply unacceptable.
“We have campaigned long and hard on this issue and it is very welcome that our concerns are being treated seriously. The green light for the judicial review is great news and we hope this will all ultimately lead to the decision to suspend A&E services being overturned. This move simply has to be reconsidered.”
For more information on the Save Friarage Hospital campaign group, visit:
• Save The Friarage CrowdJustice page
• Keep The Friarage A&E open change.org petition
• Save the Friarage Hospital Facebook Group