HEALTH chiefs are carrying out two consultation exercises on the future of medical services at a community hospital.

Ward six at Bishop Auckland Hospital, which has 24 beds, currently delivers nurse-led ‘step down care’ for patients who are medically well but unable to return home immediately.

Proposals include turning the unit into an inpatient rehabilitation facility, offering patients dedicated therapy support to help them leave hospital sooner. Under the plan there would be a reduction of eight beds.

Dr Stewart Findlay, of Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We know that unnecessary and prolonged stays in hospital are not good for patients due to sleep deprivation, increased risk of falls and fracture and the risk of catching healthcare acquired infections. We need to help patients who are medically well by supporting them to return to their homes as quickly as possible.”

Consultation is also underway on proposals that would affect stroke rehabilitation services at the hospital.

It is part of plans to consolidate all stroke services from community hospitals in the area into the University Hospital of North Durham, alongside the current hyper-acute stroke unit, to help more people receive more care at home.

Dr Findlay said: “We have launched this public consultation as we are keen to hear the views of local people on our proposals for stroke services currently being delivered at Bishop Auckland General Hospital.

“Our aspiration as local leaders of the NHS is to focus our efforts on prevention and ensure care is accessible and meets the needs of our whole population.

“Some causes of stroke are preventable and we also know that more care and rehabilitation following a stroke can take place in the community.”

  • Four public events regarding changes to ward six will take place on: Saturday, November 9, 10am-12 noon, the Music Hall, The Witham, Barnard Castle; Tuesday, November 12, 1pm-3pm, St Augustine Parish Centre, Darlington; Thursday, November 14, 6pm-8pm, at Bishop Auckland Football Club, Bishop Auckland and Thursday, November 28, 10am-12 noon, Great Hall, Durham Town Hall.
  • Public meetings regarding stroke services are being held on Saturday November 16, 10am-12pm at Bishop Auckland Football Club; Tuesday November 19, 6pm-8pm at Durham Town Hall; Thursday November 21, 10am-12pm at The Witham, Barnard Castle and Tuesday November 26, 1pm-3pm at St Augustine’s Parish Centre, Darlington.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman said: “As a community we fought to make sure that these consultations took place, so it is very important that everyone has the chance to add their views.”

To register to attend for one of the public events or get consultation documentation email or 0191-389-8609.

Online questionnaires are available at and