Doctors are insisting proposals to cut children's services are about safety and do not signal the end for a North Yorkshire hospital.
The NHS is looking to move overnight paediatric care and special baby care from the Friarage in Northallerton to a larger site in Middlesbrough, after concerns were raised by senior consultants.
Doctors fear that as people retire, the units will struggle to attract the right staff. Consultant Paediatrician Jon James says they must ensure they offer the safest service for patients.
Health bosses outlined their proposals at a public meeting in Thirsk last night. They are looking at several options:
- Keep the service as it is and have no more senior doctors present on site
- Run the Friarage as a "small and remote unit"
- Run a five-day working ward
- Provide enhanced outpatient services, increase specialist clinics but with no inpatient facility
- Provide outpatient services
- Do not provide a children's service at the Friarage
Campaigners are fighting the proposals, saying it will mean families have to travel further for treatment.
If the changes go ahead, maternity care will also be affected, with some services also moving to The James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.
The Clinical Commission Group, which is leading the project, says it wants to hear suggestions from the community. It is holding another eight public meetings before any decisions are made.