Five things you need to know about the row at the top of county's hospitals trust

The row currently convulsing Preston and Chorley's hospital board centres on the closure of Chorley's A&E unit.

Thursday, 12th July 2018, 10:07 am
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:09 pm
Protesters calling for the reopening of Chorley's A&E on a 24-hour basis

Former MEP Michael Welsh has now stepped down from the board of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust after an investigation into his conduct. Trust refused to reveal details of the investigation, but it is believed it centred on comments he made about Chorley's MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle and his campaigning to reopen Chorley's A&E on a 24-hour basis.

So what do we know so far about the issue?

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Ambulances queuing outside Royal Preston Hospital

1. The A&E unit at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital closed in April 2016. It later reopened, but only on a part time basis - 8am to 8pm.

2. Ever since the first closure, there has been a vociferous campaign to reopen it on a 24/7 basis, supported by many local people who have staged demonstrations, petitions and marches.

3. The closure was caused by severe staff shortages, with the hospital Trust saying it was unable to recruit enough people to safely staff the A&E departments at both Preston and Chorley's hospitals. For the last two years, the Trust says it has attempted repeatedly to recruit extra staff - particularly at junior doctor level - but has been unsuccessful.

4. There is an Urgent Care Centre at Chorley's hospital, which is open 24-hours a day, but this cannot deal with major trauma or serious medical conditions. The Urgent Care Centres at both Preston and Chorley's hospitals are run by a private company - Manchester-based Go To Doc.

5. The closure of Chorley's A&E has seen an increase in waiting times at Royal Preston Hospital, particularly for ambulances, whose crews have reported waits of up to an hour to hand over patients. This has had a knock-on effect on the ambulance service's response times.