THOUSANDS of Ryedale residents have urged health bosses to keep maternity services at Malton Hospital.

At an extraordinary meeting yesterday of North Yorkshire County Council's Ryedale Area Committee, Ian McInnes, chief executive of the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare Trust, was left in no doubt about the strength of local feeling.

He was handed a petition with around 2,000 names on it, organised by The Press' sister paper the Gazette and Herald.

Everyone who signed it said they were opposed to maternity services being withdrawn from Malton Hospital.

The alternatives for pregnant women would be giving birth at home or in Scarborough Hospital - 25 miles away.

After the forum, held at Malton Rugby Club, Michael Knaggs, county councillor for Malton and chairman of the Ryedale Area Committee, said it had been a good meeting, attended by between 70 and 80 local residents - including mothers and babies.

He said many people at the meeting had spoken of their experiences including one woman who said she gave birth in Scarborough Hospital when one midwife was looking after six pregnant women.

He said the alternatives to giving birth in Malton Hospital were unsafe or were not real alternatives.

Coun Knaggs said during the summer an ambulance would have to negotiate the busy and often jammed A64 to get to Scarborough Hospital, while the option of giving birth at home was an option women had always had, and so was nothing new.

A spokesman for Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Health Trust said the petition would be taken into consideration before any decision was made.

She said: "It was clear from the meeting that there is a lot of public support for the Malton unit, and everything will be taken into account as part of the consultation."

  • See the related link below to the Gazette & Herald Birth Right Campaign.