New Chorley Hospital unit given the go-ahead

A new day case and eye care unit is to be built at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 7:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 8:12 pm

Plans for the four-storey, £17.5m facility were approved at a meeting of Chorley Council’s planning committee.

Three new theatres will be created – two reserved for ophthalmology and a third for other procedures that do not require overnight admission.

An extra outpatients department and day ward will also be incorporated into the new building on the Euxton Lane site.

This is how the new unit at Chorley Hospital will look (image courtesy of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals)

However, the focus of the unit will be eye care, a service which is currently delivered from various parts of the Royal Preston Hospital – some of which are temporary.

Clinical director of ophthalmology at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Shveta Bansal, told committee members of the benefits she believes will come from operating on a single, state-of-the-art site.

“Science and technology has evolved a lot over the past 20 years and so many conditions which were untreatable before are now treatable…and sight can be preserved.

“[However], I’m sorry to say that our premises haven’t changed in the last 20 years. [In that time], our patients have multiplied and the number of diseases we diagnose has multiplied – but our infrastructure is no different.

“We don’t have the theatre and clinical space to deliver the care we need.

“This is about ensuring people have the healthcare they need and deserve, delivered at high quality and without delay,” said Ms. Bansal, adding that an ageing population was increasing demand for ophthalmology services.

Committee member Cllr Alex Hilton said that, as someone working in the healthcare sector, he viewed the project as “a great opportunity”.

“A fragmented service with old infrastructure is inefficient and not particularly effective – certainly not cost effective,” he said.

Fellow member Cllr Aaron Beaver said that it was good to see a service returning to Chorley after others had migrated in the opposite direction to Preston in recent years.

The Lancahire Post understands that the scheme is unrelated to the forthcoming public consultation over the future of the accident and emergency unit at the site, which also has implications for how the rest of the hospital would be used in future.

In January, it emerged that two out of the three options likely to form the basis of that consultation recommended that Chorley Hospital should become a “centre of excellence” for routine, pre-planned care – the like of which could be accommodated by the approved new facility.

However, this project will go ahead regardless of the outcome of that exercise, which is now expected to begin no earlier than the autumn.

The new unit is expected to be open by October 2021.

Ms. Bansal added that the work which will be undertaken at the site will make “a real difference to people’s lives”.

“Many a patent will say to me, ‘I’d rather die than go blind – and that just shows what an important part of our lives our vision is.”