Where Whitby babies could be born in the future is in doubt after health bosses confirmed the maternity unit at Scarborough Hospital is under scrutiny.
The announcement comes following speculation, including an online petition asking people to support the unit which opened in September 2010 at a cost of £1 million.
Hospital bosses confirmed the unit is likely close for 20 weeks from October, to allow upgrades to be carried out in the maternity operating theatres.
During this time, births will take place in the adjacent maternity unit, with the Hawthorn ward open as usual.
However, Patrick Crowley, chief executive of York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said he “cannot at this stage guarantee the future of any service or facility” meaning mums to be could face travelling to York or Middlesbrough to give birth.
He said: “As a whole organisation we are facing clinical and financial challenges as a result of wider NHS issues. Like all public services we have been faced with scrutinising every single service we manage and I have spoken to staff about this. All services must pass the test of being both clinically and financially viable which means safe and affordable.
“In Scarborough there are two places in the hospital where women can choose to give birth, the labour ward and the MLU.
“In York, maternity services are delivered by a single team of consultants and midwives. This means that women in York who are deemed to be ‘low risk’ can have a midwifery-led birth, but it is not delivered in a separate unit.
“As we move forward we must examine every single service, including the MLU.
“I cannot at this stage guarantee the future of any service or facility, it would be dishonest to say otherwise. However, I can confirm women will continue to be able to make choices about the type of maternity care they can receive at both Scarborough and York Hospitals.”