‘No current plans’ for a 24/7 A&E unit at Chorley Hospital

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt addresses staff at the Royal Preston Hospital during his  fact finding visit.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt addresses staff at the Royal Preston Hospital during his fact finding visit.
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There are “no current plans” to reopen Chorley’s A&E unit full time, said health minister Jeremy Hunt.

The minister visited Royal Preston Hospital on Tuesday on a fact-finding mission and met with staff.

After the visit, he responded to the Post’s questions on the future of Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s A&E department, which currently opens for just 12 hours a day.

Bosses at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust say they have not been able to find enough staff to run 24/7 services at both Preston and Chorley hospitals.

Mr Hunt said: “The Trust continues to make every effort to recruit the additional middle-grade doctors required in order to enable it to reinstate a round the-clock A&E service, but there are no current plans to increase opening hours.”

Questioned about Chorley hospital’s long-term future, and proposals to close both Preston and Chorley hospitals and build a new ‘super hospital’, he said: “This is an NHS England and NHS Improvement lead.”

After touring the hospital and meeting staff, he said he was particularly pleased to see staff being encouraged to speak out about any concerns.

“I was impressed by the developing culture at the Trust encouraging staff to speak up. Transparency is key to ensuring the NHS learns from mistakes and shares learning and I’ve seen great examples of this during my visit.

“It was a pleasure to meet staff and see first-hand the innovative work they’re doing to improve patient safety and reduce harm, particularly around avoidable falls.”

He was visiting six hospitals over two days, including Southport and Formby district hospital, Blackpool Victoria and Royal Lancaster.

But while he was assured of VIP treatment within RPH, there was a less warm welcome from campaign group Protect Chorley and South Ribble Hospital From Cuts and Privatisation which mounted a protest at the hospital entrance.