Fears raised over ambulance travel times as hospital services move out of Harrogate
Health chiefs have questioned whether Yorkshire ambulances will be able to cope with longer travel times for more patients as a number of services are being shifted to larger centres such as Leeds and York.
The scrutiny committee of the Harrogate and West Yorkshire health partnership has asked the Yorkshire Ambulance Service for assurances that it will be able to cope with more frequent long journeys when services move from the Harrogate District to Leeds or York.
Three mental health wards and the hyper-acute stroke unit at Harrogate District Hospital are all set to close over the next two years, with patients expected to be taken to larger hospitals in Leeds or York.
But questions have been raised over whether the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) has been consulted with as part of such decisions by the Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group.
Leeds City Councillor and Chair of the Harrogate and West Yorkshire Health partnership overview and scrutiny committee, Helen Hayden, has written to YAS to ask for assurances that the service has been consulted with and that it will be able to cope with the changes.
Councillor Jim Clark, Chair of North Yorkshire's Scrutiny of Health Committee, said: "The transport is now going to be a big issue. If you live in Pateley Bridge for example how do you get to Leeds or York.
He added: "Councillor Hayden has written to the YAS because what they haven't taken into consideration is that by moving facilities out of the district, they are going to need more ambulance transfer time to get patients to be seen.
"She has asked for assurances that there is going to be provision for that.
"We are doing all of these changes at a time when bus services are being cut and there are concerns that we will have to use private ambulances as part of these changes."
The concerns were raised as part of the latest meeting of the North Yorkshire Scrutiny of Health Committee on Friday.
Chair of the Committee, Coun Clark, said that fears had also been raised for the future of community hospitals such as those in Ripon, Richmond, Easingwold and Malton.
He said: "We are very concerned about the future of community hospitals in North Yorkshire.
"Just as they stopped work on the mental health facility in Harrogate they have stopped work on Whitby hospital which got Â£11 million from the NHS.
"There's also big concerns over Ripon hospital, Easingwold, Malton and Richmond."