CONTROVERSIAL proposals to end consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton are to go ahead without any further review.

The proposals were referred for a second time by the North Yorkshire Scrutiny of Health Committee to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, in March of this year.

In a letter to county councillor Jim Clark, committee chairman, in April , Mr Hunt said he had asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to complete an initial assessment by May 15.

Mr Hunt has today written to Councillor Clark, announcing that following advice from the panel, he has decided the proposals to downgrade the services at the Friarage should go ahead.

Councillor Clark said: "I am extremely disappointed with this outcome as I felt confident that we had put forward a strong case for him to instruct the Panel to carry out a full and independent review.

"This decision will greatly disappoint all those mothers-to-be and families across Hambleton and Richmondshire who expressed their concerns over the proposals."

He added, "From the perspective of the Scrutiny of Health Committee we have gone as far as we can so we now need to accept this decision and look forward.

"I will be meeting shortly with leading members of my committee and the Clinical Commissioning Group to see where we go from here.

"We will be looking to make sure the transition to a short stay paediatric assessment unit and a midwife led maternity unit at the Friarage Hospital and the planned arrangements at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough and at Darlington Hospital for supporting more complicated births are implemented as smoothly and with as little disruption to patients as possible."