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County council watchdog hits out at hospital ward closure

Credit: PA

North Yorkshire County Council’s health watchdog has expressed grave concerns at NHS plans to close a 14-bed ward at the Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk.

The authority’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, which met today, has called on the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Thirsk hospital, to give a target date for the ward to be re-opened as a matter of urgency.

The Lambert hospital ward provides general re-habilitation, diagnostics and assessment of patients’ present and future care needs as well as pain control and palliative care. It is currently open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and health committee members regard the ward closure as a particularly troubling development.

“We are extremely concerned by this development”, said County Councillor Jim Clark, the committee’s chair:

“Especially with winter approaching and the additional pressures this brings on the health service. We are especially unhappy that the South Tees Trust is not reviewing their decision until next January 2016 and that much-needed beds will be closed all that time.”

– Cllr Jim Clark

Professor Tricia Hart, Chief Executive of the South Tees Hospitals Trust, attended today’s Scrutiny of Health committee meeting to explain that a combination of long-term staff sickness, absence and vacancies had put considerable pressure on the ward and risked compromising patient safety. Temporary closure of the ward had therefore become necessary

But health scrutiny members are unhappy that they were made aware of these latest developments only a week ago. Cllr Clark continued:

“This situation must have been anticipated and yet the Trust has only let us know very late in the day.”

North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee will be meeting again in November and has called on the Trust to come back with a joint report, showing how the NHS and social care, will work together to mitigate the impact of the ward closure with the approach of the winter period.

Residents fined hundreds for yard rubbish

Two South Tyneside residents who failed to clear their yards of rubbish have been fined by magistrates.

Kayleigh Newbrook, 27, was prosecuted by South Tyneside Council and the case was proved in her absence.

Credit: South Tyneside Council

A notice was served against the defendant under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 following a build-up of refuse in her back yard.

Under the notice Newbrook was ordered to clear her yard and take the rubbish to a registered waste disposal facility. However, two weeks the rubbish had not been cleared from Aldwych Street in South Shields.

Magistrates fined her £600 and ordered her to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and courts costs of £100. She was also ordered to pay a Criminal Courts Charge of £150.

Credit: South Tyneside Council

Natalie Dodgson, 20, was also fined for a similar offence of failing to clear her yards at Victoria Road East in Hebburn of a discarded settee, clothing and rubbish. A notice was served under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 but further inspections revealed the items had not been removed.

Magistrates proved the case in her absence and fined her £400 and also ordered her to pay a victim surcharge of £40, costs of £100 and a Criminal Courts Charge of £150.

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “In addition to being unsightly, piles of rubbish can attract vermin and pose a health risk.

“These significant fines demonstrate the seriousness of this type of offence and we hope they will serve as a warning to others to clear up their rubbish when asked to do so.”

Harbottle: NHS England say "our primary concern is to ensure patients are registered with a GP"

Christine Keen, director of commissioning for NHS England Cumbria and the North East has said that their top priority is to ensure everyone is registered with a GP. Hundreds gathered on Tuesday evening to voice their anger about the closure of a GP practice in rural Northumberland.

Over the past few weeks there have been exceptional circumstances in Harbottle Surgery. NHS England has written to, and met with, patients and stakeholders to explain the context of this and try to provide reassurance about what is happening with GP services in the area.

As there is no current GP service in Harbottle, our primary and immediate concern is to ensure patients are registered with another GP practice. If patients have not yet registered with another practice, they need to do so as soon as possible to ensure they can continue to access GP services.

We are currently in discussion about how some services may be provided from Harbottle surgery and, together with Northumberland clinical commissioning group, we are fully committed to keeping people informed about the future provision of primary care in Northumberland. The shape of future services will always be informed by talking and consulting with relevant organisations, representatives and groups.

– Christine Keen


Police warn public: Don't take "Pinkies"

Northumbria Police have issued a warning about dangerous tablets circulating in the Blyth area. The tablets - known as "Pinkies" - may be either illegal drugs or unprescribed medicine. The warning by Det Supt Lisa Orchard follows the deaths of two men in the past week. A woman is also in a serious condition in hospital. It's not yet known whether any of the three had taken so-called Pinkies.

To see Det Supt Orchard's warning click below.

Former Olympian to open Sunderland fitness facilities

Former Olympic athlete Colin Jackson is to officially open new fitness facilities in Sunderland.

An open day will be held at the Sunderland Aquatic and Wellness Centre and Raich Carter Sports Centre on Saturday September 5th.

Colin Jackson coming to Sunderland Credit: PA

The events will celebrate the end of extensive refurbishments works carried out at both centres, with local people getting an opportunity to try out the new facilities for the first time.

Colin Jackson will cut the ceremonial ribbon at 10am with the open day running until 4pm.

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