Chorley A&E is to close during coronavirus crisis

Chorley's A&E department is to close during coronavirus crisisChorley's A&E department is to close during coronavirus crisis
Chorley's A&E department is to close during coronavirus crisis | jpimedia
Chorley's Accident and Emergency department is being closed down at the height of the coronavirus crisis.

Doctors and nurses employed there are being transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital to boost staff numbers at the regional trauma centre as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to bite in Lancashire.

Hospital bosses announced the shock move to staff today, but it is not clear when the shutdown will begin.

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The move was immediately branded as "reckless" by Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

The Commons Speaker stormed: "I am completely opposed to this. Who closes an A&E department in the current crisis?

"I have had a conversation with the Trust's chief executive and made my feelings known to her. I said I couldn't agree to the plans.

"Everyone else is expanding services to meet the increase in demand. Yet they are going to close Chorley.

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"I have spoken to the Secretary of State (for Health) and also the opposition's Jonathan Ashworth and neither of them can believe it.

"If Preston goes down, where is the back-up in terms of intensive care beds and A&E? They are putting all their eggs in one basket here.

"I will be doing everything in my power to stop this."

Chorley's 24-hour Urgent Care Centre will remain open to deal with minor injuries. The hospital's out-of-hours GP service will also continue.

But it is understood all respiratory patients will be directed straight to Preston where the hospital has specialist teams ready to deal with a predicted spike in coronavirus locally in the next few days.

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RPH already has two quarantine wards in use on the top floor of the main block caring for COVID-19 patients. Others are now being set aside for an expected influx of patients.

The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said yesterday that both Preston and Chorley Hospitals "will imminently be put under unprecedented pressure as coronavirus cases escalate. This will particularly affect intensive care availability as well as ward beds."

Chorley A&E was closed down by the Trust in 2016 because of a shortage of doctors. It was eventually re-opened as a 12-hour service (8am-8pm) after mass protests.

But its future has been in doubt ever since, with a report in August last year finding the unit was "not clinically viable."

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Reacting to the news today, Steve Turner, a campaigner to keep Chorley A&E open, said: "In these difficult times of course our thoughts are with the staff .

"But I think many people will be shocked that our A&E is closing at this time, especially when the government is looking to open facilities to cope with this pandemic."

The decision to close Chorley could have an impact on other neighbouring A&E units at Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn.

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