A North Yorkshire NHS trust which may merge with a failing hospital has warned they will "walk away" if things cannot be improved.
Scarborough hospital has been dogged by financial and care quality concerns and was criticised by a Care Quality Commission report.
Now the hospital and York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is considering a merger.
The warning came after a public meeting to discuss the issue in the resort.
York's chief executive Patrick Crowley said they would help as much as possible, but it would not be an open-ended arrangement
He said: "While we're very proud of what we've achieved in York Foundation Trust we're also NHS people and interested in the provision of quality services throughout North Yorkshire.
"If we can help, then we would wish to.
"If we can't help, then we will walk away."
Mr Crowley said there were difficulties specific to Scarborough's hospital and its location that needed to be taken into account.
He said: "Scarborough is a relatively small hospital and it is increasingly difficult to recruit the best clinicians, largely because of its geography and some of the nature of the services it provides.
"There is clear evidence when collaborating with hospitals like ourselves we continue to have a good success rate in getting the best doctors.
"Getting the best doctors is the key to providing the best services."
Health workers' union Unison said the merger was the only way to save Scarborough Hospital.
Union spokesman Ray Gray said it was an important process that was under way.
He said: "The option was that the trust went under.
"For us, it's (the merger plan) kept it going, it's breathed some life into it.
"There's a lot of talking we need to do with both trusts before they actually merge.
"That is going to take place over the next six to 12 months.
"We will support them where we can."