A CAMPAIGN by a Conservative Party candidate to resurrect an accident and emergency department at a community hospital has been dismissed as a "Tory lie" by the shadow health secretary.

Jonathan Ashworth accused Dehenna Davison, who is hoping to represent Bishop Auckland, of misleading the public with her stated aim of reintroducing town’s casualty facility.

But last night Ms Davison said she has not promised to reopen the department, which closed ten years ago, but would lobby for it if elected to parliament.

Mr Ashworth, speaking during a visit to the Spennymoor Settlement on Wednesday, said: “The Tory candidate is lying and is misleading people by saying Boris Johnson is going to bring an A&E back. There is no A&E on any list that Boris Johnson has published.

“I am making a realistic and credible commitment that if I am elected a health secretary next week and Helen Goodman is elected as a fabulous member of parliament I will immediately draw up a study to look at a way for bringing back an A&E for this part of the world. That is a credible way of dealing with these issues.

“That is not a Tory lie that is being perpetrated by the Tory campaigner here. That is a firm pledge.”

Healthcare has become key issue during the election campaign with concerns from Labour that Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy could lead to the sale of parts of the service to American firms.

Ms Davison has pointed out the accident and emergency department in Bishop Auckland was closed in 2009 under a Labour government.

She accused the party of carrying out a political smear campaign against her.

Referring to Mr Ashworth’s comments, she said: “What he is doing is massively twisting my words out of context.

“At no stage have I promised that the A&E is coming back.

“What I have promised is that it is going to be a campaign priority for me if I am lucky enough to be elected.

“I have already spoken to Boris Johnson and the health secretary to let them know the strength of public feeling on getting the A&E back.

“All of my campaign priorities are things I have gathered from talking to local people over the last year.

“It is not a pet project I have picked from the air or vote-winning stuff.

“It is stuff that local people have told me they are really concerned about.”

Helen Goodman has represented the area since 2005 but a recent You Gov poll has suggested Ms Davison, 25, from Sheffield, could overturn her 502 majority to become the constituency’s first ever Tory MP.

Ms Goodman, 61, said: “Obviously there has been an erosion of services at the hospital in Bishop Auckland, where there is still a big threat to the stroke rehabilitation wards and the obvious solution is to put more money in.

"We know the Tories have not put the money in that should have gone in.

“Without a commitment to put more money in there is no point pretending that you can reintroduce this service or that service.”