STRUCTURE: A Yorkshire council spent over £10,000 on a failed attempt to prevent the downgrade of maternity services plans at a local hospital, papers reveal.

Richmondshire District Council spent ££10,715.55 developing an alternative proposal to plans by to replace 24 hour consultant-led maternity cover at the Friarage Hospital with a midwife-led unit.

The plans were put forward by Hamilton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group, and backed by South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital. 

Council papers show that £8,500 was spent on on legal fees, and the remaining £2,215.55 on expenses for council leader John Blackie to visit several small hospitals in England and Scotland last year to explore different ways in which a consultant led service could remain at the Friarage.

The council’s proposal was rejected in February, when representatives from the CCG’s member practices voted in favour of the downgrade.

North Yorkshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee then referred the downgrade plan to Jeremy Hunt, but it was approved by the health secretary.

Richmondshire District Council also considered taking legal action over the loss of maternity services, but dropped the idea after a barrister warned it had little chance of success.