CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save hospital services have hit back at health chiefs calling on them to drop a legal challenge.

South Tees NHS Trust’s medical director Adrian Clements said the Save Friarage Hospital group’s challenge to plans to close Northallerton Friarage's accident and emergency department would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

However, the action group, which recently secured a judicial revue, has hit back saying the planned changes had already cost up to £1.7m.

Holly Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for the group, said: "This challenge has never been about money for us, it is about the people of North Yorkshire having the same safe and timely access to emergency care services as they do in other parts of the North East.

"It is disappointing that despite there being recruitment issues since 2017 with regards to the Friarage Hospital we have yet to see any evidence from the South Tees Trust has made sufficient attempts to prevent this emergency closure.

"This is why we still have the question about one consultant leaving which has caused a spiral effect resulting in these drastic changes without public consultation.

"We are not in the business of wasting public money or mud slinging which we fear Dr Clements is attempting to turn this into. We want transparency from South Tees on the issues we have raised time and time again.

"Since the South Tees Trust took over the hospital in 2002, the people of Northallerton and the wider area have faced 17 years of cuts to the Friarage Hospital.

"Enough is enough – we will continue to fight for our services, our hospital and ultimately our lives."