From the beginning of October, the way we provide children’s and maternity services at the Friarage Hospital will change.
From 1 October 2014, there will no longer be an inpatient (overnight) children’s ward at the Northallerton hospital. Instead a short-stay paediatric assessment unit (SSPAU) will operate which will only assess and treat children who have been referred by their GP or who have open access arrangements.
Any child who is likely to need an overnight stay in hospital will be treated elsewhere but planned day case surgery for children will continue to be provided at the Friarage.
On 6 October, the Friarage maternity centre – a midwifery-led unit – will officially open, where women who have been assessed as low risk can give birth.
Mums-to-be who have been assessed as high risk (and need consultant-led obstetric and neonatal services including the special care baby unit) will now deliver at another hospital of their choice such as The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough or Darlington Memorial Hospital.
The special care baby unit will also close on Monday 6 October, although the unit will stop taking patients from outside South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from later this month.
As there will be no children’s doctors or inpatient facilities in the Friarage overnight, the hospital’s accident and emergency department will no longer be the right place to bring children who are unwell, although staff will continue to treat children with minor injuries.
As is the case now, if a child is unwell and needs medical attention there are a number of options available such as ringing your GP, NHS 111 (out-of-hours) or getting advice from the local pharmacy. In an emergency, if a child needs urgent and immediate attention ring 999 and call an ambulance.
Dr Ruth Roberts, a consultant paediatrician at the Friarage Hospital, said: “Our philosophy in children’s services has, for many years, been to keep children out of hospital where possible.
“The main change is that children from Hambleton and Richmondshire who need an overnight stay in hospital will now be treated at another hospital such as James Cook or Darlington, or one closer to their home.
“The rest of our services remain unchanged and through the short-stay paediatric assessment unit, our consultants and nursing teams will provide assessment, care and observation for children and young people that are referred by their GP.
“We’re also working closely with the parents of children with long-term conditions who use our services frequently to explain how this will impact on them.”
Head of midwifery and gynaecology Yvonne Regan added: “These changes are being made purely on the grounds of safety and the future long-term sustainability of services – the safety of our women and babies has to be our number one priority.
“We’ve discussed the changes with all pregnant women who were planning to give birth at the Friarage and what it will mean for them and we are now discussing all the birth options available to women who are pregnant.
“Obviously there will be changes to some of the maternity services we operate in the week running up to the opening of the midwifery-led unit but again we’ll be talking to any of our patients potentially affected.”
The changes do NOT affect any of the following women and children’s services at the Friarage Hospital:
- Outpatient gynaecology
- Inpatient gynaecology for elective surgery
- Children’s outpatients
- Children’s planned day surgery
- Outpatient antenatal clinics
- Early pregnancy services
- Community midwifery services
- Community paediatric nursing services