Fresh protest at Darlington Memorial Hospital over potential cuts to services

A Fresh protest over potential cuts to hospital services is to be held on Wednesday amid claims the “direction of travel has already been decided upon” before public consultation.

The campaign group, 999 Call For The NHS, said demonstrators will gather outside Darlington Memorial Hospital to coincide with a “behind closed doors” meeting involving the board and governors of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

It claimed the meeting would discuss the future of the accident and emergency department at Darlington along with services at the University Hospital of North Durham and the possible wholesale closure of Shotley Bridge community hospital.

Under a draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), officially published last week and set to be developed over coming months, one of Darlington or North Tees General Hospital, in Stockton, could become a “local” hospital and specialist elective care centre, but lose its A&E.

The group said that with building works for six new operating theatres for elective surgery at Darlington already under way “it was arguable that the direction of travel [had] already been decided upon, prior to any public consultation”.

Chief executive of the Durham and Darlington Trust, Sue Jacques, is one of seven people on the STP executive tasked with drawing up the plan for Darlington, Durham, Teesside, Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby, which is being submitted to NHS England.

Full story in the Northern Echo, 29 November 2016