THE basic priority of managers in our NHS must always be to run services which are safe, both for patients and staff, so in that respect, the decision to suspend some critical care services at the Friarage Hospital is understandable.

If the accident and emergency department needs four consultants to be safe and only has one after a two-year recruitment campaign proved fruitless, then no wonder the service is not sustainable.

How unattractive the prospect of working there must be. Or could it be that the continued uncertainty around services at the Friarage is putting off potential applicants?

There have been whispers about the A&E for years, and review upon review upon review of local NHS services must have an impact.

Would it be a sensible career move to choose a job at the Friarage when your department might shunt 20 miles up the A19 to Middlesbrough five minutes later?

In its statement yesterday South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust talked about how it has spent the last 18 months developing a new model to provide acute medical services at the hospital, only to be “overtaken by events”.

What a shame that it looks like this model will never see the light of day.

Instead, the planned full public consultation on that project is being replaced by a four-week spell of drawing up operational plans for the new arrangement.

How temporary it is remains to be seen, but one thing is clear, the trust must be up front about any permanent changes and listen to those who will be affected.