Extra healthcare services are being provided in County Durham ahead of the busy winter period thanks to the expansion of a community hospital. 

Additional beds are being used at Bishop Auckland Hospital to cope with increased demand and extra capacity required at this time of year. 

The County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust is working towards several key targets to help ease the pressures in the coming months. They include: additional ambulances, an expanded urgent community response, and same day emergency care. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Bishop Auckland Hospital

Extra GP capacity is also planned by working with emergency departments to manage demand, while supported housing is set to be provided for people discharged from acute hospitals. 

In an update to councillors at Durham County Council, the trust’s chief executive Sue Jacques said opening Bishop Auckland Hospital to allow extra services has helped alleviate some of the pressures. 

She said: “It’s a really bustling environment and very different to what it was five years ago. We have opened additional beds there. We’re using Bishop to the full and have expanded the amount of elective work that’s being done there.”

The hospital lost its acute services in 2009 including its accident and emergency department as part of efficiency measures. 

A campaign to reopen the A&E department, led by local MP Dehenna Davison, was launched in 2019 but is unlikely to succeed due how the trust now manages its services. 

But now, the facility has temporarily expanded again and the trust says it’s exploring “flexing” its bed capacity in other community hospitals.

Ms Jacques added that using the facility as they are right now allows the trust to respond to surges. 

She added: “We love it and think it’s a great facility, a lot of other trusts are envious that we’ve got somewhere that isn’t interrupted by urgent care in the same way as acute hospitals are. We’re using it to really good effect.”