A BUS route providing a link to a hospital has been thrown a temporary lifeline.

Arriva has proposed changes to the 3B service, which runs between Bishop Auckland and Hartlepool.

It says the section between Ferryhill and the Trimdons is little used, and wants to withdraw that section of the service.

There are also plans to reduce the frequency of the service between Trimdon and Hartlepool.

Peter Crawforth, secretary of Chilton West Residents' Association, said a number of residents in the village were concerned.

He said: "People with illnesses are often referred to Sedgefield Community Hospital for treatment, and the 3B is the only direct service from Chilton."

Otherwise, it involved a long trip via Durham, he said.

Steve Burd, commercial director of Arriva North East, said the changes were to have been introduced from April 15, but Durham County Council had agreed to provide cash support to keep the service going until June 3.

A spokesman for the council confirmed that the Chilton to Sedgefield section of the route was not a major passenger service.

He said: "It's more the fact that people like to consider it being there when they need it."