The opening times of the short-stay paediatric assessment unit (SSPAU) at the Friarage Hospital are to be increased over weekends and Bank Holidays from the end of next month (May) following the appointment of a new consultant.
In January, the trust announced it would have to temporarily change the hours the unit opened from 10am to 8pm – Monday to Friday – and 10am to 5pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.
Originally it had been open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, but to maintain that level of service required a rota of seven full-time paediatric consultants and, despite the trust’s best efforts to recruit, a shortfall of staff due to combination of vacancies and long-term sickness meant the temporary changes had to be made.
Now the appointment of a new consultant, who will join the paediatric team later this year, plus two members of staff returning to work from ill-health, has meant the trust can look again at the SSPAU’s opening hours.
Chief executive Professor Tricia Hart said: “The trust still has three vacant consultant posts on the paediatric rota, which covers services at both the Friarage Hospital and The James Cook University Hospital.
“We will, of course, continue to make every effort to fill these posts but it is unlikely we will be able to move to 12-hour opening before September.
“However the consultant team are committed to providing this service at the Friarage and have agreed to cover extra hours on weekends and Bank Holidays and I’d like to thank them for their on-going support.”
Debbie Newton is chief operating and finance officer at Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, which commissions the service from South Tees Hospitals. She said: “We are very pleased that the trust has appointed an extra consultant and is extending the opening times of the short-stay paediatric assessment unit at the Friarage.
“We are continuing to work closely with the trust to ensure that a safe and sustainable service, open 12 hours per day, seven days a week, is in place. Both organisations understand how important this is for local people.”