The consultation on the future of A&E at The Friarage has started. There are two Options – 24 hour Urgent Treatment Centre or an 8am to midnight Urgent Treatment Centre. From where we are now, to be honest, these are the only options available.
The issue is that we shouldn’t be where we are now. The steady reduction of services from the removal of consultant-led maternity provision has resulted in the present fait accompli. Each small reduction has made the viability more difficult and reversing the situation much harder.
They say the hospital is too small – it has 170 beds – but, for it to meet the national average, it should have 276 beds for our population. The Trust will never invest in The Friarage to increase the number of beds unless they are made to. We urgently need more resources to be invested in rural health and social care. The penny on income tax we propose would result in an extra £12M a year for Richmond (Yorks). However, the intrinsic unfairness of London getting over £500 more per head than Yorkshire and Humber (despite rural healthcare being recognised as being more expensive) should be addressed. If we got the same amount per head we would receive an extra £70M a year.
We desperately need a Royal Commission to review the needs of rural communities in terms of health, education, social care, employment and transport and create clear rules to protect against the steady erosion of rural services. The tyranny of urban over rural areas and London over the rest of the UK needs to be curbed.

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