'Ghost Hospital' under spotlight as health care problems probed

'Ship 'em in and ship 'em out' Blast over mothers-to-be

Yorkshire Post by Mark Brangan

A NEW health care system which campaigners say has turned one seaside town hospital into a 'ghost hospital' and reduced another to a 'cattle market' is to come under the spotlight.

A range of services at Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals will be reviewed by North Yorkshire County Council's Scrutiny of Health Committee on Friday.

Committee members say they are concerned about the long-term future of the Pain Clinic at Scarborough Hospital and at the reasons for delays which have prevented the midwife- led maternity unit becoming operational.

Questions will also be asked why Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals came out second worst of all hospital trusts in the country in the recent Dr Foster Survey on patient safety and what is being done to address the problems.

Committee chairman Gareth Dadd said "We will be looking at a range of issues all relating to Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals and examining the trust's plans for developing services which are safe and sustainable in the long-term.

"There are certainly serious questions to answer, and we will be asking those questions as part of our job of holding health providers to account.

"However we will also be seeking a way to assist in building up the confidence of patients, staff and the wider public in Scarborough Hospital which will be vital in moving forward."

The committee will also be informed of work taking place to develop a long-term future for healthcare services which are safe and sustainable.

Mick Pilling, chairman of the Save Bridlington Hospital Campaign Action Group, claimed the system was not working because too many services had been transferred to Scarborough where there were not enough staff.

He also accused bosses of paying lip service to Bridlington where services had been cut to the bone and window-dressed with an appointments system.

He continued: "We have a ghost hospital at Bridlington and a cattle market at Scarborough Hospital. For women who have babies there it is a case of "ship 'em in and ship 'em out".

"There have been cases of women from Bridlington being sent home and giving birth at their own houses."

He argued it might be a sustainable system in another part of the country. "But it is no good when the towns are 22 miles apart and the ambulance service is absolutely stretched. Local people are absolutely and utterly disgusted." Campaigners were calling for nothing less than the complete restoration of a full service at Bridlington Hospital, he added.

But trust chief executive Richard Sunley said: "Like other trusts, we do not fully understand the methodology behind these Dr Foster results and believe the overall result to be misleading, creating an incomplete picture of the good work that is taking place at our hospitals.

"We pay a yearly fee to Dr Foster to receive alerts so that we are alerted when our outcomes differ from what is expected however, we have not received any alerts this year on clinical issues which is why we do not understand why we were in the lowest band, when compared with other trusts.

"This year to date, we have had no issues or concerns regarding patient safety. We would like to reassure our patients that we are an improving hospital and we are confident that our safety and service is of the highest quality."

The recent report by the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries showed Scarborough maternity department, which delivers more than 1,650 babies a year, has a below average rate of stillbirths and infants lost in the first month of life.

The meeting takes place at 10am at the Oasis Family Centre, Castle Road, Scarborough