HEALTH chiefs are asking the public where their ‘red line’ is in terms of services they feel must be kept at the Friarage Hospital.

The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has launched a 12-week engagement programme to inform the public about its efforts to recruit more staff and is asking residents what services are most important to them at the Northallerton hospital.

Concerns have already been raised by residents and Richmond MP Rishi Sunak over the future of emergency medical care services due to a shortfall of critical care clinicians and anaesthetists.

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A separate consultation report also raised questions over whether the hospital will be able to retain its mental health wards.

Dr Adrian Clements, medical director at the Friarage, said it was “absolutely not” the Trust’s desire to see services moved to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, but it was important for the Friarage to be sustainable.

He said: “That is the key message for us, that the Friarage is a really important hospital and the Friarage itself will be here and will be a strong hospital in the future.

“We just need to define what that future is, but we don’t want to be having conversations every year about the sustainability of the site.”

He added: “What are the red lines for the local population about what has to be delivered locally?”

Mr Sunak has previously raised his concerns in Parliament and has urged the Trust to set out a positive vision to end uncertainty about the hospital’s future.

He is also calling on residents to get involved in the engagement process, saying: “I understand some people’s cynicism about engagement or consultation exercises in the light of past experiences but that will not help those of us who are fighting to maintain a good range of services at the Friarage.”

The next engagement event is at Northallerton Town Hall on Monday at 6pm and details of further events is at southtees.nhs.uk/Friarage