THIS week we heard of another worrying, potential loss of services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

This time it involves the possible closure of its mental health wards. The Clinical Commissioning Group has launched a “pre-consultation report” where the public can choose one of three options for the future of mental health services at the hospital - only one of which involves retaining the two wards.

It has echoes of the “consultation” that led to the axing of consultant-led maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital, when the public was asked to choose between two options, all of which involved downgrading the hospital’s midwifery-led maternity unit and children’s outpatient service.

Then we have the loss of emergency and acute services at the Friarage, which so far hasn't involved presenting the public with a Hobson’s Choice of how best they would like to see their local hospital services cut.

Public opinion is pretty unequivocal when it comes to losing local health services; just look at the thousands of people who marched through Northallerton in protest at the cuts to midwifery and paediatric care.

There's no doubt the Clinical Commissioning Group has some tough and unenviable choices to make over health services and presumably is yet again faced with difficulties involved in recruiting highly qualified staff, clinical safety and financial constraints.

But isn’t it time the 122,000 people who use the hospital service had some clear answers about the future of their hospital?

How far will these cuts to the Friarage Hospital will go? And what will we be left with when these cuts finally end?