I READ with interest the letter from Sam Zair (HAS, Dec 9) suggesting that the blame for the closure of the Bishop Auckland Hospital A&E department lay at the door of Helen Goodman.

By the same token the closure of the A&E department at the Friarage in Northallerton should be laid at the door of the Conservative candidate for Richmond.

It is a pity that the NHS is being used as a political football in the current election. Maintaining A&E services in small rural hospitals is extremely challenging and should have nothing to do with party politics.

A&E departments need full back up with intensive care, anaesthetics, acute medicine, surgery, paediatrics, imaging, and pathology and require large numbers of staff to provide safe services.

His additional point about Brexit is also of interest as Brexit is resulting in many thousands of medical staff returning to Europe as they feel they are no longer welcome here.

These staff are the very individuals who would have helped keep small local hospitals viable.

Dr John Sloss, Darlington