Councillors consider legal challenge over maternity service cuts

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councillors have agreed to get legal advice over launching a judicial review to challenge a decision to downgrade maternity children’s services at a North Yorkshire hospital.

Richmondshire councillors have unanimously agreed to seek a legal opinion over the decision-making process used by the GP-led NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which has voted to axe full maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

Councillors claim there are “deep-seated flaws” in the consultation process by the CCG over the changes.

They had wanted NHS officials to consider an alternative which would keep services at the hospital.

Hambleton District Council and North Yorkshire County Council will be invited to join forces over the legal moves.

Council leader Coun John Blackie said: “The consultant-led services are of too greater a value to the local communities the Friarage serves to see them taken away by a decision-making process that has at times appeared bizarre, if not inexplicable, and seriously flawed through and through.”

He claimed an alternative model of provision submitted by the council, and backed by local MP William Hague, had been treated with “disdain by the CCG, who refused to forward it to the GPs who made the decision”.

He added: “We owe it to our local communities, who rate the services at the Friarage as first class, and they place great trust and confidence in them, to go the extra mile. We are serious and mean business.”