Chorley Hospital’s A&E department is set to close on Monday due to ongoing issues recruiting staff to work in the department.
Staff working at the hospital were informed this afternoon that from Monday the A&E department at Chorley will be downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre - meaning they can only treat minor injuries and illness, but life-threatening emergencies will be diverted elsewhere.
According to the Lancashire Evening Post, news of the closure has been met with anger from staff, locals and health unions - many blame ongoing government funding cut to the health service as a whole. Further blame could lie with the government crackdown on agency fees.
A Hospitals Trust spokesman said: “It is not possible to staff the rotas after 18 April, and there are no other safe options for delivering care – so the emergency department at Chorley will be temporarily replaced by an urgent care service until the staffing crisis is resolved.
The NHS Trust confirmed that although steps were taken to prevent the closure, no public consultation has taken place.
“The urgent care service will be provided at the urgent care centre, at Chorley & South Ribble Hospital.
“The service will be provided by a combination of emergency department consultants, nurse practitioners, GPs, nurses and healthcare assistants.
“The vast majority of people who currently attend the emergency department at Chorley have conditions that can be treated safely and appropriately by an urgent care centre.
“Additionally from Monday 999 ambulances will take patients to Royal Preston Hospital or other nearest appropriate hospital rather than Chorley, and patients who attend Chorley themselves, but who need to be admitted, or need specialist services will be transferred to Preston for assessment.”
UNISON Branch Secretary Pete Smith said: “This is a sad and worrying day for people in Chorley. The down-grading of the A&E department is not due to any reduction in the needs of the local community. It is a consequence of decisions taken by the Conservative Government to starve the NHS of adequate resources.
“For years the share of national income spent on our NHS has been falling. This has resulted in increasing pressures on staff – and now the recruitment problems are so bad that the A&E can no longer function.
“Jeremy Hunt should come to Chorley to see how his Government’s underinvestment is in danger of wrecking our NHS.”