Friarage Hospital plans referred to Jeremy Hunt

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

Plans to scale back maternity and child services at a North Yorkshire hospital will be referred to the government.

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

North Yorkshire County Council's Scrutiny of Health Committee agreed at a meeting on Thursday to ask Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene.

A consultation into the proposals has been postponed until they are reviewed by Mr Hunt.

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.

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 CCG agreed to hold a public consultation on the proposed changes but refused to include the option to keep services as they are.

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