Friarage Hospital changes consultation postponed

Entrance to the Friarage hospital The Friarage Hospital serves about 122,000 people across North Yorkshire and the central Pennines

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A public consultation into the future of children's and maternity services at a North Yorkshire hospital is on hold.

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

Richmondshire District Council passed a motion on Tuesday urging the plans to be referred to the health secretary.

The NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has postponed the consultation until it hears his views.

The consultation process was due to start next month.

'Complex' issue

The preferred option of the CCG is to replace overnight children's care with a day care assessment unit, and to have midwife-led maternity services instead of consultants.

It means pregnant women at risk of complications would have to travel to hospital in Middlesbrough, 22 miles (35km) north of Northallerton, to give birth.

The changes are being made after a national clinical advisory team report published in January said the Friarage's paediatric unit was unsustainable.

The decision on whether to refer the plans to the health secretary is to be made at the North Yorkshire County Council Scrutiny of Health Committee in November.

Dr Vicky Pleydell, the CCG's chief clinical officer, said: "In the interests of preserving precious funds, and the public's time and effort, the CCG will be pausing the consultation until after the feedback from the secretary of state has been received.

"As we have explained throughout this process, the issues around children's and maternity services at the Friarage Hospital are complex and our duty, as commissioners, is to ensure they are safe and sustainable for the future."

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