A COUNCIL has stepped up pressure on NHS bosses to abandon proposals to downgrade hospital services.

Hambleton District Council has joined a growing list of MPs and authorities – including Darlington Borough and North Yorkshire County councils – to raise fears over the The Better Health Programme review of NHS acute services across the Tees Valley, South Durham and the northern parts of North Yorkshire.

Proposals are being drawn up across the country to meet significant cuts in funding and aim to show how NHS services in each region will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years.

Hambleton members have unanimously backed a motion by Northallerton councillors Caroline Dickinson and David Blades calling on the review to take into account the needs of the district’s residents and communities, who they said relied upon critical care services remaining at the Darlington Memorial Hospital.

The call echoes concerns expressed by Keep Our NHS Public County Durham campaigners earlier this week that reduced hospital services in Darlington or Stockton, and Durham, would see people having to travel further for key NHS services.

Cllr Dickinson told a meeting of the full council residents had become “extremely cynical” after an NHS pledge to ferry patients to James Cook was dropped following 24-hour consultant-led paediatric and maternity services being cut at The Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

She said: “Over the last few years we have seen services disappear from the Friarage here in Northallerton. When they were downgraded in 2014 we were given to understand that the services would be available at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

“I don’t believe that when putting their figures together they have taken into consideration the increasing population, in the light of developments at North Northallerton, Sowerby Gateway and more regiments coming in to Alanbrooke Barracks and that’s without all the troops being moved into Catterick Garrison. It is important for people living in Hambleton to give support to keep these services at Darlington. We are a very rural area without the infrastructure to get long distances quickly.”

Cllr Blades added he wanted NHS bosses honour the commitment to retain critical care services at the Darlington hospital in line with the assurances given to residents two years ago.

He added: “The ambulance service is concerned and say if accident and emergency is at risk at Darlington then that would jeopardise their plans as well.”