THE leaders of a controversial group responsible for the planning and purchasing of the vast majority of health services across Hambleton and Richmondshire have been named the best in Yorkshire.

Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) governing body received the NHS Board/Governing Body of the Year title in the Yorkshire and the Humber NHS Leadership Recognition Awards.

The governing body is clinically-led by GPs and nurses, with support from an NHS manager, while the public are represented by the body's chairman Henry Cronin and three elected Health Engagement Network representatives.

The CCG's leaders, who remain under intense scrutiny as they pursue plans to downgrade round-the-clock consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, said the accolade was an endorsement of its work.

As part of the award entry, the CCG outlined its most challenging project, which is improving care for older people in an area with a rapidly expanding elderly population.

The CCG has also held numerous events, used methods such as video booths and created a Health Engagement Network with 180 reisdents in a drive to involve the public in decision-making.

Dr Vicky Pleydell, the CCG's clinical chief officer, said: "With strong leadership from the governing body, we have risen to challenges, learned from experiences and are determined to do the right thing for our population.

"This award belongs to the whole of the CCG as the governing body is an integral part of the whole rather than a separate group."

Dr Pleydell said the CCG would contest for the national best governing body title at a ceremony in February.