The Chief Executive of York NHS Trust has responded to rumours of possible plans to downgrade Scarborough Hospital.
Mike Proctor, Chief Executive at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "People will be aware that it's a very difficult time and one of the aspects that we're struggling with is workforce. We really have a problem attracting people to work in Scarborough.
"What we wanted to do was to have a mature and open debate on how we can provide quality services in Scarborough that are deliverable and sustainable.
"Scarborough needs an A&E department, that's a given and we are committed to providing that department with all the services that surround it. You can't have an A&E department without emergency surgery, without paediatric care and obstetric cover. You need all those services."
When asked about the rumours concerning the loss of those specific services and departments -- rumours that have sparked an online petition signed by over 12,000 people -- Mr Proctor said: "All of those options have been discussed but they have not been proposed. They could have, but it would be ridiculous. You can't have an A&E with midwifery-led unit but you need to have those options on the table in order to eliminate them.
"What happened is that one individual just looked at the worst options and made the case for Scarborough but that's not true."
In regards to the public meetings held yesterday, both of which were attended by around 200 people, Mr Proctor added: "We didn't expect that so many people turned up because people misunderstood the purpose of those meetings.
"What we planned was a small meeting to understand what criteria we should consider when making decisions on the future of services, aspects such as time, travel etc. It was not a public consultation because we're not at that stage yet.
"My ultimate fear is that people get in their head that we want to downgrade Scarborough Hospital and if people keep saying that, no-one is going to want to come to work here.
"No-one wants to downgrade Scarborough Hospital, we want to provide services that are good, safe, sustainable and deliverable."
Proposals, which will be subjected to public consultation, are expected to be formulated by the end of this year and the beginning of 2019.