Former Conservative leader William Hague has vowed to continue fighting to save children and maternity units at Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, after a report advised downgrading services.
The cabinet minister said the report by Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG was a “serious blow” and urged campaigners to keep contesting the proposed service redesign.
Mr Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said it would be a “tragedy” if local residents suffered as a result of the changes, which would force people to use other hospitals in the region.
The CCG report proposes to create midwife-led maternity unit at Friarage Hospital. But that would result in more than half of the annual 1,520 admissions being transferred elsewhere.
Commissioners have also drawn up plans to create a paediatric day care unit at the hospital, which may result in youngsters admitted overnight needing to seek treatment nearby.
A spokesperson for the CCG said its duty to “commission the safest, most high quality services tells us this option will allow us to do this” whilst remaining in its budget.
But campaigners said they felt the report had “ridden rough-shod” over the views of patients and local residents in order to tackle the hospital’s £19m deficit this year.
“It is an absolutely shocking report, the public engagement exercise before it has been a tick-box exercise and they have not listened to the overwhelming objections to their proposals,” said Councillor John Blackie, leader of Richmondshire District Council.