Health Ministers have promised to review the way small rural hospitals are funded following a meeting with Thirsk and Malton MP, Kevin Hollinrake and his colleagues Rishi Sunak MP (Richmond) and Robert Goodwill MP (Scarborough & Whitby). The MPs have raised their concerns with ministers about the challenges facing Scarborough and Friarage hospitals on a number of occasions. The hospitals are classified as ‘unavoidably small’ because they serve relatively small populations but, owing to their remote locations, need to provide as wide a range of services as possible so that patients don’t have to make unnecessarily long journeys, often in discomfort, to seek medical care. As a consequence these hospitals cost more to run.
Mr Hollinrake said “I certainly welcome any reform to the system. Although the hospitals do receive some extra funding because of their size and location, it doesn’t make up for the fact that they don’t receive extra ‘payments by results’ which some of the larger hospitals qualify for. This is not fair to our constituents who are just as entitled to the excellent health care enjoyed by people living near much bigger hospitals”.
Mr Goodwill said: “This situation has gone on too long. The funding arrangements need to recognise that we cannot achieve the economies of scale enjoyed by hospitals in big cities, but we still need to deliver a wide range of services and minimise the number of patients who have to travel to York.”
Health Minister, Edward Argar MP, promised to review the way small hospitals are funded either through new legislation or by finding a new way of allocating the money through the NHS.
Mr Hollinrake said “We certainly don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul but we would like to see a fair share of the additional £33.9 billion recently announced by the Government for the NHS allocated to small hospitals like Scarborough and the Friarage”.