A NORTH-EAST MP has joined the fight to save hospital services as he claimed the “same excuses are being used to justify the shut down of an even arguably more remote A&E” eight years on from a separate closure.

Hartlepool MP Mike Hill said the fight to restore A&E services at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton is one that is reminiscent of the struggle to keep A&E going at Hartlepool Hospital.

The Northern Echo:

Eight years on from the decision to first close the Holdsforth Road Unit to children, and then to adults leading to full closure, Mr Hill has warned the same reasons are being given for closing the services at the Friarage.

Mr Hill's comments come after campaigners fighting to save hospital services hit back at health chiefs calling on them to drop a legal challenge.

South Tees NHS Trust’s medical director Adrian Clements said the Save Friarage Hospital group’s challenge to plans to close Northallerton Friarage's accident and emergency department would be a waste of taxpayers' money.

However, the action group, which recently secured a judicial revue, has hit back saying the planned changes had already cost up to £1.7m.

The Northern Echo:

Mr Hill said: "In 2010 when the Conservatives took control of the Government, and in the stroke of a pen put pay to the idea of a new ambitious hospital at Wynyard, they also oversaw the demise of the A&E unit at Hartlepool. The Labour Party on Hartlepool Council, as with all other parties at the time, fought hard, but could have fought a damn sight harder to stop the loss of such a vital service, but it was not to be.

"Given what happened in Hartlepool I honestly believe that the same old formula applies and so even in the Tory stronghold of Northallerton, the NHS bureaucrats will win hands down, but this time in a place not too far away from us it will be local Tory Councillors who get the blame for the demise of a life saving a unit and not Labour.

"Labour in Hartlepool did resist the closure of our A&E back in the day, admittedly not strong enough for those who still attach blame to them, but they did question the validity of the decision and all credit to them.

"We might not get our A&E back anytime soon, just like the people of Northallerton, but we will continue to fight for it and at least be proud of our record of standing by our Hospital, and not let it whither on the vine."

Holly Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for the group, said: "This challenge is about the people of North Yorkshire having the same safe and timely access to emergency care services as they do in other parts of the North-East."