COUNCILLORS are due to discuss the potential closure of a hospital ward during a meeting next week.

The debate on the possible closure of ward six at Bishop Auckland hospital will take place during a meeting of Durham County Council on Wednesday.


County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust (CDDFT) is currently consulting with staff about the delivery of services from ward six.

Representatives of the trust will be attending another Durham County Council meeting, to be held on November 15, to discuss the issue with members of the authority’s overview and scrutiny group.

On Wednesday, members will be debating a motion put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Mark Wilkes, which calls for the Secretary of State to halt the planned closure.

He said: “I am certain that we will get cross-party support for ensuring that Bishop Auckland Hospital is not downgraded further.

“This issue impacts everyone in County Durham. Closing ward six will pile more pressure on other services in other areas, as well as further undermining this hospital.”

Cllr Craig Martin added: “Across the county, every councillor is concerned about the impact that changes at Bishop Auckland could have.”

The motion will be seconded by Bishop Auckland independent councillor Sam Zair.

A number of Bishop Auckland councillors, including Labour representatives Joy Allen and Tanya Tucker, joined MP Helen Goodman on a march to protest against the closure, which took place last Saturday.

Ward six, which has 24 beds, is nurse-led and provides “step-down care” for patients who no longer require doctor care but are not well enough to go home.

A public meeting took place last week for people to make comments and ask questions about the planned closure.

It is understood staff would be redeployed to fill vacancies elsewhere in the trust.

According to a consultation document sent to staff earlier this month, the closure would achieve cost reductions, support the trust’s bed reduction plan and tackle under occupancy of bed capacity, as well as standardising working practice and staffing ratios across hospital wards.

A spokesperson for CDDFT said no changes will be made to the ward until after the scrutiny meeting on November 15.

The debate will take place during a meeting of the full council, which takes place in the chamber at County Hall, in Durham.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 10am.