WILLIAM Hague has welcomed a move to refer the decision to downgrade maternity and paediatric services at a hospital to a Government advisory service.

The Richmond MP said while concerns over patient safety on the units at the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, would remain as the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) examined the scheme, it was of paramount importance that residents had confidence in the services.

North Yorkshire’s health scrutiny committee has appealed for the panel to review Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) decision to to change the consultant-led 24-hour services at the hospital to short-stay assessment and midwifery-led units.

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Mr Hague said: “There remains a clear gulf between the CCG's preferred clinical model and the views of people who use these services.

"I recognise there are concerns about the time it would take for an independent review to be completed and the safety of maternity and paediatric services during that window.

"It is important the IRP takes this into consideration, but it is critical that maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage have the full confidence of people who use them.

“An independent and thorough analysis of the situation by the IRP is now necessary for that."