AN MP says she is “furious” after breast cancer clinics were switched from Darlington to Bishop Auckland last month - without advance publicity.

Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington, said she was unaware of the change until a constituent raised the matter.

“I am furious about this. Apparently the outpatient clinics were moved from Darlington Memorial Hospital to Bishop Auckland Hospital as long ago as May 13 but nobody seems to know about it,” said Mrs Chapman.

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She is now urgently raising the issue with managers at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The MP said she was concerned that the switch took place without informing interested parties including local GPs and Darlington Borough Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.

“It is outrageous. I think patients just got a standard reminder letter. It is a significant change and it should have been made clearer,” she added.

“There are also public transport concerns,” she added.

A wider concern for the MP is that the breast cancer service provided by the County Durham and Darlington Trust is going to be reviewed next month.

“It sounds like they want to go down to two rather than four sites for mammograms. For my part I would strongly urge that Darlington, as the main centre of population, should be one of them,” the MP added.

Councillor Wendy Newall, chair of Darlington Borough Council’s Health and Partnerships Scrutiny Committee, said: “It is of great concern that members of our committee were not made aware that was going to happen.”

Breast cancer patient Kerry Heaney, 34, who lives in the next street to Darlington Memorial Hospital, said: “I have got two toddlers and my mum has to come all the way from Billingham to take me to Bishop Auckland because my husband is at work. The whole thing is a massive pain,” she added.

Martin Phillips, chief officer with NHS Darlington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said “As commissioners of local health services, we would like to reassure the people in Darlington that we are working closely with the trust to ensure that breast clinic services are reinstated at Darlington Memorial Hospital as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the County Durham and Darlington Trust said: “Due to a shortage of some key staff, we have made some temporary changes to our breast clinics.

“We have written to our patients to inform them of this and have apologised for any inconvenience.

“We will be carrying out a full review of breast services beginning in July with full involvement of stakeholders."