Pre-engagement: Shotley Bridge Community Hospital Services

Our independent observation report on engagement activities across North-West Durham.

North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (NDCCG) have stated that the Shotley Bridge Community Hospital (SBCH) site is relatively old, expensive to run and lacks the infrastructure required to support future delivery of services. NDCCG believes there is a strong clinical and financial case for reviewing the current services and investing in a fit for purpose facility.

The recent public engagement exercise was to explore how some services might be re-provided in a fit for purpose facility and how some services might be delivered elsewhere. At this stage no decisions have been made. NDCCG wants to listen to and to understand the views about their thoughts from local patients, family members and the wider public, alongside healthcare clinicians, local GPs, local authorities and community sector organisations and other stakeholders. Healthwatch County Durham was invited to be a member of the Shotley Bridge project Group and the Patient Public, Carer and Engagement Committee, meaning we have had the opportunity to see the engagement plans and receive updates on the process. We promoted the engagement opportunities widely on social media and in our newsletter.


  • Better advertising of future events should be considered, being specific about times as some people thought the events were “drop in” and therefore missed part of the presentation. Using a broader range of methods, could result in more people attending. Some events were far better attended than others.
  • In the group sessions it was a challenge to get though all the topics in the time available and some groups felt rushed so this may be something the organisers want to consider for future events
  •  The presentations made it quite clear that this was pre-engagement and that no final decisions had been made , however some people still felt strongly that the hospital was going to close.
  •  People present at the events listened carefully to what they were being told and raised some valid points and concerns, although there was a lot for them to take in.
  • It was clear that the current hospital is well regarded by patients and families and they spoke a lot about the quality, consistency and friendliness of staff, which is something they would not like to lose.
  •  Current Urgent Care was raised and there were comments made that the services available at Shotley Bridge were not being offered by 111 call handlers. Clarification would be helpful.
  •  Travel was one of the main issues raised throughout the 4 events attended and will need to be one of the key consideration for decision makers to give assurance to the people in the community.
  • Giving further detail about the cost implications for decisions to be made in the future would be valuable as people asked about cost comparisons.


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