Friarage hospital paediatric unit 'should move to Middlesbrough'
A paediatric unit at a hospital in North Yorkshire should close, according to an independent report.
The National Clinical Advisory Team (NCAT) report said the unit at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton was not sustainable.
It said the service should be moved to the larger James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
A three-month-long public consultation will be held on the proposals from March this year.
The Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said senior doctors at the Friarage had raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of some services.
The CCG aims to take control of local NHS decision-making in 2013 and it decided to commission the report from NCAT.
'Invest in quality'
The 230-bed hospital serves 122,000 people and Dr Vicky Pleydell, from the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG, said as a smaller hospital it faced a number of challenges.
She said: "I must stress that this is not about saving money but more about using the available money to invest in good quality and safe services that can stand up for years to come."
The report said the hospital provided a first-class service but in relation to paediatric services it expressed concerns about the hospital being able to maintain a workforce with the right skills.
It also said if children needed inpatient care, they should be cared for in a unit which has a full range of services backed up by high dependency and intensive care facilities.
A scaling-back of maternity services was also included in the recommendations.
The report will be considered by NHS North Yorkshire and York, the CCG and the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs both the Friarage and James Cook hospitals.
A three-month public consultation about any proposed service changes will begin in March.