FAMILY doctors are being urged to get involved in the battle for maternity and children’s services at one of the region’s hospitals.

Consultations are currently being carried out on proposals to downgrade the current round-the-clock consultant-led services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and transferring them to Middlesbrough.

Richmondshire District Council has come up with an alternative proposal which would allow the Friarage to retain the services – and its model has already won the support of the local MP, Foreign Secretary William Hague.

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But council leader John Blackie claims local health bosses are trying to undermine the alternative model – and is appealing to GPs to give the Richmondshire scheme their support.

The final decision will be made by individual GPs and GP practices working within the local Clinical Commissioning Group and Richmondshire is now sending them copies of the alternative model over the heads of the CCG management.

“I am very disappointed to report that it appears, rather than giving a fair and balanced review to the alternative model the intention of the CCG is to try to undermine it at every opportunity,” said Coun Blackie.

“Perhaps it needs to be reminded that whilst it has been gifted the stewardship of healthcare provision locally, the NHS it is now in charge of is there to serve the public, rather than the public being there to serve the NHS.”

He added: “We hope our appeal will prompt GPs to think very carefully before voting to lose forever these absolutely essential and hugely valued services at our Friarage Centre of Excellence – their patients have long memories.”

The CCG’s chief clinical officer, Dr Vicky Pleydell, said the decision-makers had already been given all the clinical evidence they need to make an informed decision as well as proposals submitted by others.

She added: “The CCG’s senior management team will not be responsible for making the decision, as it is important that decisions which affect the care of our patients are made by local GPs.

“We firmly believe that GPs in our area have the most knowledge of their local communities and will ensure the services we commission are high quality, safe and sustainable.”