Public consultation on the future of urgent care services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton

Home 5 Case Studies 5 Public consultation on the future of urgent care services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton

The challenge

The NECS Communications and Engagement team provided planning, delivery and advisory support to the urgent care consultation led by NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which took place between 13th September 2019 and 17th January 2020.

NECS organised a consultation on the future of key services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, operated by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This involved sharing a new vision for urgent care that would safeguard services and ensure local people across Hambleton and Richmondshire would continue to have access to high quality and safe urgent and emergency care.

The Friarage Hospital is a much-loved and valued part of the NHS and in recent times it has faced a number of challenges. One particular challenge has been a shortage of key emergency staff that has affected the Trust’s ability to provide safe 24 hour, high quality A&E, anaesthetic overnight cover and critical care services from the hospital.

Our response

The CCG, with involvement from key stakeholders, developed two preferred options for urgent and emergency care provision;

  • •Replacing the emergency department with a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) supported by a responsive front-of house emergency medical model, dealing with approximately 90% of urgent and emergency presentations;
  • Replacing the emergency department with an UTC of the same configuration as above, but closed between midnight and 8am.

NECS worked with the CCG to develop a multifaceted approach to engage with as much of the local population as possible.

This involved:

  • A consultation document outlining the background, options and ways to get involved.
  • A consultation questionnaire for an on-street face-to-face, online and paper survey methods.
  • The distribution of consultation materials to public events, libraries, GP practices, district
    councils, pharmacies etc.
  • Planning and analysis of four focus groups with members of the public, with assistance from independent researchers appointed by NECS.
  • Supporting the planning and delivery of eight focus groups organised and held by Voluntary Community Sector Organisations.
  • Full planning and delivery of 13 public consultation events held in market towns in Hambleton and Richmondshire. NECS attended all events and managed bookings, registrations, room capacity, materials, feedback forms, slide and video content, Q&As and collated responses.
  • Press releases, video production, easy read materials, posters and leaflets and other consultation materials, website and social media content.
  • Attendance and support at health scrutiny meetings with the county council.

In addition NECS was involved in planning meetings with special interest groups and helped with the delivery of a large public meeting for one local Parish Council.


A photo of a hospital corridor with a sign showing the Z-Ray department


NECS has built up a wealth of knowledge in effective and strategic consultation work, and the team were involved at every stage from the initial planning, the practical support of delivering events on the ground, provided an effective midpoint review, advised on how to manage the consultation through the unexpected purdah period and then finally work with our
supply chain to provide in depth analysis and reporting to reflect accurately on the views of the public and stakeholders.

The result was a robust process which received excellent customer feedback, adhered to all best practice guidelines for
public consultations and gave the client the assurance of a way forward to implement their innovative and sustainable model for the secure future of the hospital.