BREAKING NEWS Save our Maternity Unit Mr Johnson

COUNCILLORS from across North and East Yorkshire have stepped up their bid to save Bridlington's maternity unit. They have referred the issue to the secretary of state for health Alan Johnson, pleading with him to overturn hospital bosses plans to shut the unit.

Members of a scrutiny committee, made up of representatives from East Riding and North Yorkshire councils say they are 'not at all convinced' by some of the reasons given by the trust which runs Bridlington Hospital.

It has compiled a report which it has sent to Mr Johnson, in which it accuses the trust of ignoring the strength of public feeling to keep maternity facilities in Bridlington, but also in Whitby and Malton.

Now, he will have the final say on whether the units stay open.

The report says: "For Bridlington Hospital, the transition of maternity services away from the site needs to be considered in the context of other changes that are taking place, which will also reduce the services available from at the hospital, specifically the removal of the coronary care.

"This continued run down of services at the site raises great concerns around the ongoing viability of the hospital itself. Bridlington contains one of the most deprived wards in the East Riding with the lowest health status.

"These proposals have the potential to significantly impact on the health economy in these areas."

It casts doubt on the trust's argument that giving birth at home is as safe as giving birth in a midwife-led units and says the trust's plans go against national clinical advice.

But its main issue is that the views of local people are being discarded.

The report adds: "In the context of Whitby, Malton and Scarborough it was clear from the public meetings held by the Scrutiny Committees that the local communities in these towns consider their maternity unit a local facility in their local community hospital, and S carborough (at 20 miles or more away) the equivalent of a town in a foreign country.

"It was patently obvious from these public meetings that local people in the communities in Whitby, Malton and Bridlington highly value and have confidence in the local service the three midwife-led maternity units offer and do not wish to see this service curtailed.

"There is also undoubtedly a powerful wave of local concern in Whitby, Malton, and Bridlington that the closure of the three maternity units is just another in a long running series of cutbacks and curtailments in services at their treasured community hospitals, which eventually will undermine the viability of the very hospitals themselves, and lead to their closure."

Last month, maternity services in Scarborough were criticised by the Healthcare Commission, which labelled the trust one of the 'least well performing' in the country .