An MP’s campaign to reopen a hospital’s A&E department has been questioned following months of inactivity. 

Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison has called for the service to return to the town’s hospital ever since being elected in 2019, 10 years on from its initial closure. 

The 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.

The colsure came after a clinical review into services at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust found there was insufficient clinical staff and essential support services required to support the department at the hospital.

Speaking in 2022, the Conservative MP said: “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.”

Read more: Campaign renewed to reopen Bishop Auckland A&E after closure

The appeal appeared to gather pace last summer when a petition was launched and campaigners gathered outside the hospital to appeal for its reopening.

But the campaign has faced several setbacks, including in January this year when a public meeting organised by the Conservative MP was cancelled at the last minute. Since then, locals say they are in the dark as to whether it will ever reopen. 

Labour candidate for the Bishop Auckland constituency at the next General Election, Sam Rushworth criticised Ms Davison’s work.

He said: “I don't think Dehenna Davison has ever put any great thought or effort into this so-called campaign. What she has done is take a photo or two, plaster it on social media and get herself regularly into the local press.”

For councillor Sam Zair, an Independent council representative for Bishop Auckland, reopening the A&E was never a realistic proposition.

He said: “I just shook my head last year and said 'don’t be silly'. I know nothing about the latest. Now she’s not restanding I think she’s lost interest, she’s been sorely disappointing.”

Dehenna Davison was contacted for comment but did not respond. 

Reopening the A&E has received the backing of some residents. Speaking in support last year, Phil Davids said: “It’d be great for the town. I never got why they closed it in the first place when Durham and Darlington are such a way away.”

Another supporter of the campaign, Sue Elliott from Coundon, added: “When I had an episode where I passed out unconscious my husband had to get me in the car and take me all the way to Darlington.

“This would be a five-minute drive instead of a 25-minute drive – it’d make a massive difference.”

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Instead, Mr Rushworth said he wants Bishop Auckland hospital to be used better by improving other services.

He added: “We need a plan to upgrade the Urgent Care Centre to a 24h walk-in - I think 111 needs to do better at sending non-acute cases to Bishop and I think we need a massive expansion of the NHS workforce and better use of Bishop, the Richardson, Stanhope and all community hospitals for step-down wards, and out-patient procedures.

“All of this, along with a stronger focus on prevention and on social care, would reduce pressure on Darlington's A&E, cut waiting times, and bring medical services closer to the community.”