ANYBODY who has closely followed the happenings at the Friarage can't have been too surprised at the recent downgrade to A&E.

Indeed it was back in 2014 when health secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the go-ahead to downgrade maternity services and since then there has been an air of inevitability that further services would be lost.

Health chiefs assure us that this latest change is temporary - as it has to be by law.

Yet, forgive Spectator for being cynical, if the decision has been made due to an inability to recruit vital staff over the last year or more, what exactly is going to change in the coming months that will bring the relevant clinicians flocking to the Friarage?

We've been told that plenty of money and effort has been thrown at recruitment campaigns with little success.

And whilst the temporary suspension of A&E services is obviously necessary if there isn't the staff to run it safely, it does beg the question where are these vital clinicians suddenly going to come from if they haven't already been interested in taking up positions at the Friarage?

It is a sorry state of affairs and one that seems all too familiar when it comes to the smaller, district hospitals. Just look at the Lambert down the the road at Thirsk.

Or rather, look at the empty building where there was once a thriving hospital.

There appears a general plan within the NHS to centralise services into giant specialist centres aka James Cook, but with town populations growing and remote villages being further isolated when their smaller, closer hospitals lose services, it doesn't take a misfortune teller to see real trouble ahead.