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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.

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On September 9, Her Majesty the Queen will have reigned for 63 years and 217 days making her the longest-serving monarch in British History.

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Man dies after being struck by a train in Co Durham

File photograph of a British Transport Police officer Credit: PA

A man has died after being hit by a train in County Durham.

British Transport Police and emergency services were called to Croxdale Viaduct, Sunderland Bridge at around 5.45am this morning, September 3rd, following a report of a person struck by a train.

Officers from BTP and Durham Constabulary attended the incident, alongside colleagues from North East Ambulance Service. A man was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident is currently not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”

– British Transport Police spokesperson

Police are currently working to identify the man and inform his family.

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