Health watchdog calls for urgent action on Lambert hospital

North Yorkshire County Council’s health watchdog is calling on the NHS to take urgent action and leave no stone unturned in its effort to re-open a 14-bed ward at the Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk.

The chair of the county council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, Cllr Jim Clark, has written to the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Lambert, to express the committee’s “extreme disappointment” that no progress has been made to fill vacant nursing posts which led to the ward’s closure in September.

The Lambert hospital ward provided general re-habilitation , diagnostics and assessment of patents’ present and future care needs as well as pain control and palliative care. The Trust closed the ward on the basis that a combination of long-term staff sickness, absence and vacancies had put considerable pressure on the ward and risked compromising patient safety.

The Trust has maintained that the situation will be reviewed next January but Scrutiny of health committee members regard the ward closure as a particularly troubling development, given the approaching winter.

In his letter, Cllr Clark states that unless urgent action is taken now to fill posts “there is little chance of the ward reopening following that review”.

Cllr Clark’s letter has been sent ahead of the meeting he will attend on Thursday (November 26th) of the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group governing body, which commissions the service. He stated: “I will be pressing the CCG and the Trust to announce what they are doing as a matter of urgency to recruit new staff or introduce alternative arrangements under which safe nursing levels can be reinstated so the ward at the Lambert can be reopened. The lack of progress to date is of great concern.”