Scarborough Hospital bosses were challenged during a public meeting on why women are having to travel to York for urgent breast cancer referrals.
The issue was flagged up during last week’s annual general meeting by Sir Michael Carlisle, chairman of Healthwatch North Yorkshire and former chairman of the Scarborough Hospital trust board.
He said: “The service seems to have been withdrawn from Scarborough and moved to York. I don’t think people are getting enough patient choice unless we can deliver services like that in Scarborough.
“I hope it doesn’t become that too many services are York-centred as this does concern a lot of people.”
Sir Michael added that having to make the 80-mile round trip to York for an urgent breast care referral could cause undue stress to women and leave them out of pocket.
Patrick Crowley, chief executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said that he understands patients concerns about services moving to York.
He said: “We had a public meeting at Scarborough Library pre-integration and people were almost hanging from the rafters in expressing their concerns about having to travel up and down the A64 in the heat of summer or on a dark winter’s night.
“But we did not get into the integration to centralise services in York. We came into it to raise the quality and standard of services in Scarborough and to safeguard services in Scarborough.
“This remains a cornerstone of our integration.”
Mr Crowley added that he remains committed to make sure services remain in Scarborough and that for him it is a “personal mission”.
However, he explained that breast referrals are currently being looked after at York - but as an interim measure only.
Mr Crowley explained: “We have been absolutely hamstrung - it has been difficult to get a radiologist and we’ve long-term sickness absence among key members of staff.
“We have done everything we can to provide services on both sites, but over time we saw issues in access and that the service was thinly spread over both sites.”
He said that Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had challenged the trust “at all times” on how they could sustain the service.
Mr Crowley told the meeting that the CCG had said “if you believe it’s in people’s best interests to centralise services in York while you build on it in Scarborough, then you have our blessing”.
The service will remain in York until the right people are in post and the service can come back to Scarborough.