York & North Yorkshire

Friarage Hospital maternity plan review ordered by government

Entrance to the Friarage hospital
Image caption The NHS is planning to scale back maternity and child services at the Friarage Hospital

A review of plans to cut maternity and child services at a North Yorkshire hospital, has been ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The NHS is planning to reduce services at the Friarage in Northallerton, claiming they are unsustainable.

Now, Mr Hunt has asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to carry out an initial review.

The changes would mean mothers-to-be at risk of complications would have to travel to hospital in Middlesbrough.

Mr Hunt has taken his step after North Yorkshire County Council referred the proposals to the Department of Health in December.

'Very deep concerns'

The preferred option of the NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is to replace overnight children's care with a day care assessment unit, and to have midwife-led maternity services instead of consultants.

The changes were proposed after a national clinical advisory team report indicated the Friarage's paediatric unit was unsustainable.

In a letter to the chairman of council's Scrutiny of Health Committee, Councillor Jim Clark, Mr Hunt said: "Should the panel advise that a full review is necessary, you will have the chance to present your case to them in full."

In response, Mr Clark said: "If a full review is ordered, as I very much hope it will be, there will be an opportunity for the people of North Yorkshire to present their very deep concerns about these proposals directly to those with the ultimate responsibility for deciding what should happen."

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