HEALTH bosses have today announced plans to end consultant-led maternity services and 24-hour paediatric services at Northallerton ’s Friarage Hospital.

Following months of protests by people across North Yorkshire, including a mass-march through Northallerton, a huge petition and a series of public meetings, NHS Hambleton Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has published its recommendation for the future of the Friarage.

The CCG’s preferred options are:

*Running a midwifery led maternity unit, including a community midwifery and outpatient service; 

*Running a short stay paediatric children’s assessment unit including a community nursing and outpatient service.

The group said that of the two other options put forward, keeping a consultant-led paediatric and maternity service would require significant investment and would still be fragile in terms of sustainability.

It said that providing a paediatric outpatient service only (no assessment unit) with enhanced community services, whilst offering a midwifery-led maternity service, would be too restrictive in terms of patient access to services.

Richmond MP William Hague, who has led opposition to the changes, said: “I am disappointed that the CCG have not been able to find a unique solution to the challenges facing the hospital and I continue to encourage them to set out a clear and positive vision for the Friarage Hospital.

"We must maintain our opposition to these changes and I call on the trust and CCG to ensure these vitally important local services are maintained.”

Dr Vicky Pleydell, shadow accountable officer at the CCG, said: “We have spent the last few weeks analysing all the data we have collected on the Friarage and the options available to us.

“After careful consideration, our council of members, made up of all local GPs, has recommended an option that would see a midwifery led maternity unit and an short stay paediatric assessment unit at The Friarage.

“We will recommend to the Primary Care Trust Board that this is our preferred option, along with the other two options we feel are less suitable, then we will be running a public consultation.

“We know children’s and maternity services at the Friarage have been facing issues for some time and this option means that women can still have low risk births at the Friarage and children can still be assessed by the appropriate clinician.

“Our duty is to commission the safest, most high quality services and clinical evidence tells us that this option will allow us to do this, whilst ensuring we remain within our allocation of funding.”

The paper detailing the recommendation will be taken to the CCG’s Shadow Governing Body, at a meeting held in public, on Monday, September 17 for discussion and approval.

Following that meeting, the recommendation will be discussed by the board of primary care trust NHS North Yorkshire and York at its meeting on September 25.

The board will decide the final options for public consultation, which would take place over 14 weeks.

*Monday’s meeting will take place from 10am to 12pm at The Main Hall, Hambleton Forum, Bullamoor Road, Northallerton. There will be a 20 minute question and answer session at the beginning of the meeting for members of the public to ask questions.