A County Durham MP has launched a bid to reopen the A&E department at Bishop Auckland hospital after it closed 13 years ago.

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison has been campaigning to reopen the accident and emergency in her constituency since she was elected but has now launched a petition to take her campaign to the next step.

The hospital’s A&E was closed in 2009 and residents have been forced to travel 12 miles to either Darlington Memorial Hospital or University Hospital Durham for emergency care.

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The Northern Echo:

Dehenna Davison MP told The Northern Echo: “This hospital which we’ve got on our doorstep is a really incredible facility, I think we can all agree on that. It was built with an A&E, it was built with a maternity ward, it was built with everything that a town like ours would need.

“But in 2009 under Labour the A&E got taken away and I think it has been the worst thing to happen to this town in a long time.”

“What we’re seeing is this hospital sitting half empty with wards being completely unused. We have this here, it doesn’t have the A&E and it absolutely needs to be brought back.”

The Northern Echo: Dehenna discussing the A&E with campaigners. Picture: DANIEL HORDONDehenna discussing the A&E with campaigners. Picture: DANIEL HORDON

The A&E was closed in 2009 following a clinical review into services at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust after it was found there was insufficient clinical staff and essential support services required to support the department at the hospital.

In 2019 it was reported that the reopening of the Bishop Auckland A&E was 'not thought to be viable'.

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Crowds gathered outside of the hospital on Wednesday (August 10) lunchtime to support the MP.

Davison promised to campaign for the reopening of the hospital in her 2019 election campaign in but says she didn’t want to put additional pressure on the NHS during the covid pandemic.

The Conservative MP added: “When I was elected in 2019 I said this would be one of my key priorities and I have been working on it ever since.

“We know what has happened over the last couple of years, and what I didn’t want to do was add to the pressure the NHS was facing with this campaign, but with the pandemic just about behind us now is the time to bring back Bishop Auckland’s A&E

The Northern Echo: Bishop Auckland Hospital's A&E closed in 2009.Bishop Auckland Hospital's A&E closed in 2009.

“We know that local people want to see this delivered, today we are launching our petition, and I’m going to do everything I can to bring this A&E back to Bishop Auckland.

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“I’ve been nagging both of our leadership candidates on this and will keep nagging them.”

Last month, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust reported it had met its target of seeing patients within four hours just 70.8% of the time.  For its major A&E departments that fell to 48.7%.

Just last week The Northern Echo reported that wait times at Darlington’s A&E had hit 30 hours, according to an online tracker, but the hospital said the website was wrongly telling patients of an extended wait time and it was actually 10 hours.

Nationally, four-hour performance at major emergency departments was 58.8% last month – the second worst four-hour performance on record.

Before the 2019 General Election when Davison first pledged to campaign for the A&E, then-Labour Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth 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."

At the time Davison rebuked the comments saying: "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."

The petition is currently open to signatories and will be presented to the Integrated Care Board at Bishop Auckland Town Hall on September 15.

Watch our Facebook Live and interview with Dehenna here

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