Hospital bosses have been given a deadline to produce a ‘transparent, sustainable and realistic’ plan for emergency services in Chorley.
The A&E department at Chorley’s hospital closed in April, in a move which was described as temporary, but has since been extended to 2017.
There are clearly significant problems in providing emergency care, not just here in Lancashire but across the country. I hope this report can play a role in helping to provide solutions, particularly at a local level in Chorley.
Now Lancashire County Council’s health scrutiny committee has published a report making 10 recommendations.
As well as calling for a proper plan – to be delivered by November 22 – the committee has also asked the trust what it is planning to do about its inability to meet the four-hour waiting time target at Preston’s A&E.
Bosses at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust said a shortage of staff made it impossible for them to keep Chorley’s A&E department open.
Steve Holgate, chairman of the Health Scrutiny Committee, said: “The closure of Chorley’s A&E has generated a huge amount of concern in the local area, so it vitally import that the Health Scrutiny Committee puts together this report.
“Over a number of months we have considered evidence from a wide variety of sources, including Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust, the local clinical commissioning groups, various NHS bodies, local MPs and local campaigners.
“This has been a rigorous process and we have identified a number of issues which have both a local and a national resonance. The key areas of concern for the committee have been around the impact of the closure, not just on residents of Chorley and South Ribble, but also on surrounding hospitals, policies and practices relating to recruitment, how the situation was communicated to local people and what the future holds.
“There are clearly significant problems in providing emergency care, not just here in Lancashire but across the country. I hope this report can play a role in helping to provide solutions, particularly at a local level in Chorley.”
The trust was criticised for to failing to communicate with the scrutiny committee, and also for not flagging up earlier the serious staffing problems it was experiencing.
The report concluded that, “it has been clear for some time that there has been a growing problem in emergency care.
“The trust could, and should, have seen that coming, and should have taken action to ensure the problem did not become a crisis.”
However, the report also accepted the A&E crisis is the result of complex issued in health care, and is not just confined to Lancashire.
Hospital Trust chief executive Karen Partington said: “We note the report’s recommendations, and are committed to making any improvements necessary.
“We agree that we could have informed the Overview and Scrutiny Committee about the challenges we were facing before we did, and will ensure we provide more timely updates about this and other issues going forwards.
“We are continuing to make extensive efforts to recruit the staff we need, which is a significant challenge due to the national shortage of emergency department doctors.
“We remain committed to reinstating the department as soon as we have enough doctors to provide a safe and sustainable service.”