CIVIC leaders have welcomed news of an increase in services at a community hospital.

From June 20, Ripon Community Hospital will hold a breast surgery follow-up clinic once a month.

And bosses at Craven, Harrogate and Rural District Primary Care Trust (PCT), which runs the hospital, say they are committed to bringing more clinics to the facility. The breast surgery clinic has been created following a widespread public consultation exercise on the future of the hospital.

The results showed that people want an increase in clinics at Ripon, as well as a wider range of consultants brought in and as many services as possible close to their homes.

Dr Rob Bryan, a consultant from South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust, will run the clinic on the third Monday of each month.

It is for cancer patients who have had surgery and need follow-up care. Six local patients will be seen initially, with the number planned to increase over time.

Ripon mayor Councillor Stuart Martin, whose grandfather campaigned to save the hospital when it was threatened with closure 40 years ago, said: "It is certainly good news when services come back to Ripon. The nearer to home people can get treated, the better it is.

"I would like to see the hospital have all the services back. I certainly believe that Ripon is big enough to warrant that."

The hospital now has 27 outpatient clinics including dermatology, neurology, orthopaedics and nurse-led clinics such as ante-natal and leg ulcer treatment.

Penny Jones, chief executive of the PCT, said: "A clear message we picked up from our public meetings was that many patients from Ripon and Masham go to Friarage Hospital at Northallerton, and also want the opportunity to benefit from more local outpatient clinics.

"We promised we would listen to the public and bring in improvements as quickly as possible, and I'm delighted we have reached this agreement with South Tees Hospitals to secure a clinic for Mr Bryan at Ripon.

"Not having to travel so far will be a real benefit for people who use the service, as will the homely atmosphere Ripon Community Hospital offers.