Birth centre closure after builders found asbestos

Asbestos has been found in non-public areas at Chorley Hospital
Asbestos has been found in non-public areas at Chorley Hospital
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The Birth Centre at Chorley has been closed after builders found asbestos on the site.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said they were forced to act on Monday and reassured families that the move was only temporary.

A survey identified the presence of asbestos in non-public areas such as plant rooms and service voids while builders were on-site preparing to undertake some construction work in the building that accommodates the birth centre, ultrasound and some outpatient clinics at Chorley Hospital.

Although no asbestos has been found in the atmosphere and there has been no risk to patients, staff or visitors, the lift and fire alarm at the Birth Centre are affected.

Paul Havey, deputy chief executive said, “Firstly it is important to reassure patients and staff that the asbestos is contained, sealed, and being appropriately managed, and daily air quality checks confirm there are no asbestos fibres in the atmosphere.

“However, we have decided to implement our business continuity plans for the birth centre and ultrasound service, which are currently located on the third floor, because of the issues that have been identified with the fire alarm system and lift.”

Cathy Atherton, divisional midwifery and neonatal nursing director said: “From February 25 the Birth Centre will be temporarily closed, and we are in the process of contacting women who were due to give birth there.

“We are very sorry that this has had to happen and acknowledge the significance that this will be for women and their families who had chosen to have their baby at the Birth Centre.

“We will work closely together to make alternative arrangements.

“Any woman who had planned to have their baby at Chorley Birth Centre in the next five weeks should call us to discuss the options available to them, if they haven’t heard from us yet.”

The ultrasound service has been temporarily relocated to the ground floor and staff will redirect patients as they attend for their appointments.

In the coming weeks the entire building will be fully vacated, and all services currently on the ground floor relocated.

Mr Harvey added: “We have taken these temporary measures as a precaution, and we apologise for the disruption this will cause.

“We are actively working on plans to refurbish another building to reinstate the Birth Centre at Chorley as swiftly as possible.”

++ Any women who had planned to have their baby at Chorley, and whose due date is within the next five weeks, should call 01772 528223.

What you’ve been saying online

Nicolla Moran: “The whole maternity/ultrasound area is so old fashioned it’s unreal. It’s like something half deserted. I feel for staff morale working there in empty corridors with woodchip paint, old fashioned pictures, old fixtures and fittings, old chairs.

“The place honestly feels like it’s in some eastern block town in the 80s. It’s about time they invested in upgrading it all, and it’s no critique of the staff. It needs modernising big time and I hope this makes them do it, should be a much lighter brighter place to visit and work.”

Jo Molloy: “I would go to Chorley over Preston anyday, its a lovely ward and staff are caring kind and helpful. Preston is a cattle market.Caroline Griffiths: “It was the loveliest place to give birth”

MP’s reaction

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I’m very pleased that the hospital has taken immediate action and they are putting mothers and babies first.

“I have been assured that the Birth Centre will reopen as soon as possible, when it is safe to do so.”