ONLY five years after building a £250,000 medical records library, a North-East hospital trust had it bulldozed, it was revealed last night.

Details of how a purpose-built medical records library was axed to make way for the new Bishop Auckland General Hospital have just emerged.

Ironically, the same hospital trust is now paying what is believed to be more than £100,000 a year to taxi medical records back and forwards between the Bishop Auckland hospital, Darlington Memorial Hospital and a new records library set up in a former factory on the edge of Darlington.

Information about the destruction of the medical records building was revealed by members of the Unison health union during an interview leaked to The Northern Echo and due to be published by Health Emergency magazine.

John Lister, director of information for Health Emergency, recently interviewed workers at Bishop Auckland along with staff at eight other NHS hospitals built under the Government's much-criticised private finance initiative (PFI).

He said staff at Bishop Auckland General Hospital were "the most bitter" about how things had changed.

"They said they used to love the job but now they hate it because of what has been done to them," said Mr Lister, who also visited the PFI-built University Hospital of North Durham.

The general picture portrayed by the interviews was "a nightmare" which would come back and haunt the Government, he predicted.

Concerns voiced by staff at the new £67m Bishop Auckland General Hospital include:

* Reduced standards of cleanliness on wards.

* Two-tier pay and condition for staff taken on since ancillary services were privatised.

* Porters asked to work as untrained security staff.

* Lack of resources and equipment.

* Lack of a porter's lodge.

A spokeswoman for Bishop Auckland General Hospital said: "The trust has a contract with our partners to provide hospital cleaning and we continually monitor standards.

"The new medical records site was set up because the trust wanted to centralise medical records for Bishop Auckland and Darlington hospitals. It is more efficient to have all the records on one site," she said.

"When the planners were looking at a site for the new hospital, the demolition of the medical records library appeared to be the most cost-effective solution."