A CAMPAIGN to fight the closure of a hospital ward is gathering momentum.

A petition set up to prevent the closure of Ward 6 at Bishop Auckland General Hospital, in County Durham, has reached more than 2,000 signatures since it was launched last Friday.

The petition was set up by Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman, to present to Parliament, and requests adequate funding for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) to prevent service closures, including those proposed for Ward 6.

The nurse-led ‘step down’ ward of 24 beds is for patients who no longer require doctor care but are not ready to go home.

Should the proposal go ahead, it is understood the ward could stop taking patients from October 31 and the ward could close on November 11 or 12. However, this may be subject to change.

The trust is thought to have shifted focus to increasing patient care in the community, outside of hospital. A trust spokesperson previously said the consultation was based on “demand, staffing and bed occupancy across its sites” and was the result of ongoing reviews of patient needs and resources.

The petition has been backed by community groups including the Facebook campaign page Save Services at Bishop Auckland Hospital.

Local businesses have also been taking paper copies to put in shops and cafes.

The Bishop Auckland Constituency Labour Party organised a special campaign day on Saturday, gathering over 500 signatures in the town centre.


MEETING: A public meeting is to be held to discuss the closure of the ward at Bishop Auckland Hospital (pictured)

And on Thursday, October 18, Ms Goodman will chair a public meeting for residents to discuss their concerns.

Sue Jacques, chief executive of CDDFT has confirmed she will be attending.

Ms Goodman has also written to the CCDFT Council of Governors, outlining her objections to the plans and requested key details on financial savings, and the impact assessments for patients and staff. She has also urged the public to write to County Durham Healthwatch requesting a public consultation.

The public meeting will be held at the Methodist Church, Cockton Hill Road, Bishop Auckland, at 6.30pm.

Ms Goodman said: “The response to the petition so far has been phenomenal, and shows how much the wonderful staff and facilities on Ward 6 are valued in our community. It shows that we will stand up for our hospital and challenge these cuts, both with CDDFT and higher up the chain with the Department for Health and Social Care. I hope that the Trust will take note of the public opposition to this proposal, and launch a full public consultation to rethink this closure.”

Paper copies of the petition can be collected from Helen Goodman’s Constituency Office, 1 Cockton Hill Road.

Durham County Councillor for Bishop Auckland Town, Joy Allen, has also been backing the campaign and personally sponsored a Facebook advert to spread the petition far and wide.

A march is also being organised for next weekend although exact details are still to be confirmed.

Cllr Allen said: "I am personally paying for a sponsored Facebook ad which contains the link to the petition, so we can reach as many people living in the constituency who will be affected by these changes.

"This is not a political campaign it’s a town campaign and we all want to see services at Bishop Hospital expand not contract."