Major changes to maternity and children’s services at a Yorkshire hospital will begin to take effect from today.
The Friarage Hospital in Northallerton will no longer provide inpatient overnight care to unwell youngsters who will instead be treated at neighbouring units.
Next week, a new midwife-led unit will open at the hospital where around 400-600 women a year assessed as low-risk will give birth each year compared to around 1,200 at present.
Women at higher risk or opting to give birth in a consultant-led unit face travelling to Middlesbrough, Darlington, Harrogate or York.
Hospital chiefs say the changes, which triggered heavy opposition from local people, are necessary to meet safety standards.
They say as there will be no children’s doctors or inpatient facilities for children overnight, the hospital’s A&E will no longer be the right place to bring unwell youngsters and are instead urging parents to contact their GP, or if their child is seriously ill to dial 999.
Consultant paediatrician Ruth Roberts said preparations had been made with neighbouring units for the changes to ensure extra capacity was available. It was estimated three or four seriously unwell children a day would need overnight care elsewhere. A short-stay assessment unit would remain at the hospital to assess and treat children referred by their GP.
Cancer patients from northern Lincolnshire beginning treatment at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, Hull, will be able to cross the Humber Bridge free from today.
An estimated 60 patients a month requiring at least 12 separate appointments will benefit from toll-free crossings in a six-month trial following a decision by the Humber Bridge Board.
Cancer specialist Raj Roy, of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Being treated for cancer can be an intensely worrying time, both for the patient and their loved ones. Just by removing one small but additional concern ... we can make a really positive difference to people”.