A COUNCILLOR has said he feels ‘fundamentally cheated’ over planned hospitals upgrades.

Cancer treatment, x-rays and surgery were among the services facing an overhaul at Shotley Bridge Hospital under proposals to redevelop the site in favour of a ‘new purpose-built facility’.

But the project, along with the prospect of a new A&E department at University Hospital North Durham, has hit a roadblock after the Government put the brakes on NHS spending.

Liberal Democrat councillor Owen Temple, who represents Durham County Council’s (DCC) Consett North division, said: “We’ve been led to believe the new A&E at Durham was a done deal.

“It’s been publicly stated funding for Shotley Bridge was secured, but it really meant expected, hoped for, or any other less specific term, and on behalf of my community I feel fundamentally cheated by that.

“Blame has been shifted around and I just hope the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are going to make damn sure what they say was secured is secured at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Coun Temple was speaking at DCC’s Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Friday.

Discussions on delayed upgrades to Shotley Bridge Hospital and UHND had not been included on the original agenda, but were raised by North West Durham MP Laura Pidcock, who said uncertainty about the schemes had left the public in ‘no man’s land’.

Shotley Bridge and UHND had both been expected to receive cash from NHS England for upgrades, but ministers have written to regional care chiefs across the country twice in recent months telling them to cut spending plans.

Sarah Burns, of Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) and North Durham Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “For Shotley Bridge, the capital we require is for the next financial year and we need to see if that is available. We’ve decided to progress with writing the business case for Shotley Bridge and we will be taking that through internal processes in December and bringing it to scrutiny in January. But until we have more information on availability of funding we cannot continue to consultation.”