Patients in the Harrogate and District healthcare system could face very different NHS services as officials predict a £1bn deficit in five years.
In March, NHS England split up North Yorkshire and re-grouped the Harrogate district into a new ‘footprint’ for funding with West Yorkshire.
Now a five-year draft plan for how the footprint will be funded, has claimed it will face a deficit of £1.07bn by 2021, if no action is taken before then.
The draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) claims that £983 million could be saved in Harrogate and West Yorkshire, by efficiency measures and preventing ill-health.
But the draft has prompted the North Yorkshire Scrutiny of Health (SoH) committee to question how the ‘enormous’ financial gap will be filled.
Coun Jim Clark, chairman of the SoH committee, said: “It’s rather vague at the minute and it is a draft plan so it hasn’t got down to the nitty gritty of what they are going to have to close.
“That’s what worries me, there will be changes to services at Harrogate hospital and I am concerned about the future of maternity and A&E services and how they will be impacted.”
“The plans were supposed to improve healthcare but it is all about reducing the deficit. This is all being driven by money.
“The people of Harrogate will finish up with services that are quite different to what they’re used to.”
The draft STP for Harrogate and West Yorkshire, is one of 44 across the country and was the first to be published in the region.
Made up of 11 Clinical Commissioning Groups, eight local authorities, six Health and Wellbeing boards, and 13 acute trusts, the Harrogate and West Yorkshire footprint is the second largest in the country and has the biggest potential deficit of any STPs published so far.
Coun Clark said: “Where is somewhere like Ripon going to end up in a big geography like West Yorkshire.
"We started to work on a new hospital for Ripon but there is nothing about that in the plan. At our committee on Friday we will be getting a report on the closure of Thirsk hospital. They could close Ripon hospital, I’m very concerned.”
Now, Coun Clark has asked for an urgent meeting with West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP Lead, Rob Webster, to query the figures.
Mr Webster said: “The draft STP proposals build on local plans that have been developed in each of the six local districts we cover. These have been discussed in public by Health and Wellbeing Boards and they attempt to tackle long standing issues and improve care.
“The local plan is not new but an acceleration of the existing work in place, for example preventing illness and keeping people well so they can have a healthy, long life.”