Health campaigners have raised fears about the future of community hospitals in North Yorkshire, including Ripon’s.
At a North Yorkshire scrutiny of health committee meeting, former chairman John Blackie said Ripon Community Hospital, among others, has a ‘question mark’ over its future, despite being a much-valued facility.
Mr Blackie said: “Community hospitals are hugely valued and are seen as essential facilities by those the NHS is here to serve. They are under threat.”
Campaigners said they believe severe budgetary pressures facing the NHS in the county could lead to the closure or further downgrading of hospitals, including those at Whitby, Ripon, Richmond and Malton.
The committee heard the claims following Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group (CCG) postponing a meeting over a £12 million redevelopment of Whitby Hospital due to the costs of the project being “higher than anticipated.”
Despite these concerns, a statement issued to the ‘Gazette from the Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group states that there are no current plans to change the current arrangements at Ripon hospital.
A spokesperson said: “The services provided on the hospital site deliver excellent care to our population and the CCG has no current plan to change these arrangements. We are working closely with NHS Property Services to ensure improvements and further investments are made when required.”
NHS Property Services, which owns and maintains Ripon Community Hospital on behalf of the CCG, said : “This year a financial investment has been made to maintain operational standards which will ensure the continued delivery of care. We are working with the CCG to ensure improvements and further investments are made when required.”
The importance of protecting Ripon’s healthcare facilities is emphasised in the Ripon City Plan, which will go to referendum on February 14.
The Chair of Ripon Civic Society, Chris Hughes, who is a City Plan committee member, said: “Ripon people told the City Plan team how essential it is to retain the hospital and its breadth of health services into the future. The City Plan sets out how important it is to protect this accessible location to sustain Ripon’s health care provision.”