THE future of Whitby Hospital is secure.

County councillor John Blackie, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council's health scrutiny committee, said that, following a major study of health services in the Whitby area, it had been decided to retain the hospital.

He said the hospital, built in 1965 as the country's first community hospital and opened by the late Princess Margaret, would have a key part to play in providing health care in a large part of rural North Yorkshire.

Coun Blackie told the county's Yorkshire Coast and Moors Area Committee that treatment for patients suffering from suspected emergency heart and gastro complaints would be dealt with at the hospital.

"The future is bright for Whitby Hospital," he said.

* From October 15, there will be only one primary care trust to serve the whole of York and North Yorkshire, replacing the existing four trusts, the committee was told.