FEARS for the Friarage Hospital have been dogging our communities for so long. A dip into the library of this esteemed organ reveal in 2003 health bosses moved to dispel fears that the accident and emergency department at was on the verge of closure after hospital staff said the department was suffering from severe staff shortages. Nowadays the reality of cutbacks and reviews is increasingly real. The concern is understandable, it’s a precious place for all. But is the fear worse than the reality of what is actually happening or indeed planned? It's the smallest district hospital of it’s type in the country, although it employs around 1.100 people, and after a member of our staff was told this week by an ambulance crew that it was regarded largely as a cottage hospital, it’s hard to keep the death knell at bay. However administrators insist they are committed to maintaining services. It can be very confusing keeping up with exactly what’s going, coming or staying and how refreshing would it be if the health authority came up with a list of what services really are being provided at the Friarage and what’s not. A look at the South Tees Trust website is quite illuminating. Under service developments we have the revelation: "There has been lots of speculation, and general anxiety, among patients and the wider public that the Friarage Hospital will close but exciting things are happening all the time here!

"The truth is the Friarage is a vital part of our trust, and working with GP's, and staff across both acute hospital sites, we have been able to bring in many new skills and services in recent years, which offer more locally delivered care for many people." This seems very positive, but we still really would like a list.