Richmondshire District Council is to consider taking legal action by launching a judicial review of the decision to downgrade 24/7 consultant-led maternity and children’s services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor John Blackie won the unanimous support of the Council to consider challenging the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group’s (HRW CCG) decision making process. The decision itself has been ratified at an extraordinary Governing Body meeting of the CCG held in Northallerton this morning.
This week Richmondshire District Councillors meeting at full council expressed their serious concern at what they regarded as deep-seated flaws in the consultation process undertaken by the CCG, and the lack of transparency in apparently dismissing without proper consideration the merits of the alternative model of provision endorsed by Richmondshire District Council.
The Council’s Monitoring Officer, Callum McKeon has been instructed to seek a legal opinion examining the merits of a potential challenge of the CCG’s decision. It will ask for advice on the strength of case, the likelihood of success in the High Court if a judicial review is pursued, and the costs that might be involved.
“The legal opinion on these matters will be brought back to a future meeting of the Council to allow Members to make an informed decision as to how they wish to proceed,” he said.
“Hambleton District Council and North Yorkshire County Council will be invited to join in seeking the legal opinion and any legal action that follows as a result as this is a matter that equally affects residents in both those areas.”
Councillor John Blackie said “The consultant-led services are of too greater a value to the local communities the Friarage serves to see them taken away by a decision making process that has at times appeared bizarre, if not inexplicable, and seriously flawed through and through. The alternative model of provision the District Council submitted, fully backed by William Hague MP, instead of being embraced, was treated with disdain by the CCG, who refused to forward it to the GPs who made the decision”
He added: “Other small hospitals of comparable size are continuing with the services the HRW CCG have decided to abandon at the Friarage. We owe it to our local communities, who rate the services at the Friarage as first class, and they place great trust and confidence in them, to go the extra mile. We are serious, and mean business.”