‘CLOSURE by stealth’ is an accusation often levelled at NHS organisations whenever a consultation is launched over the removal of services or the closure of smaller hospitals.

It was thrown about recently with the closure of the mental health wards at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, and so it was back in 2016 when the local CCG put forward its proposals to permanently shut the Lambert Hospital in Thirsk.

At least those proposals were sweetened by the suggestion from the CCG that the site could be retained for use as some form of community health hub in the future.

Alas, now the building can be bought by anyone with £400,000 to spare and the desire to turn it into apartments.

There is not a community care hub plan in sight.

Anything to do with the NHS - and particularly what is perceived as a watering down of services - is an emotive subject.

Not least because without public funding it would cease to exist which engenders a sense of public pride and ownership.

This is particularly the case with the smaller ‘cottage hospitals’ that tend to have deep historic roots after being gifted to local communities, as the Lambert was back in the early 1900s.

The Thirsk public reluctantly accepted the closure of the facility last year, with many predicting that it was a sad inevitability following its ‘temporary’ closure in 2015.

Sadly, the community-hub idea now seems like it was never going to happen and it has only fuelled distrust between the public and the CCG.

For many, the hospital’s sale is a bitter pill to swallow.