UPDATED: Bikers rev up for campaign to save Chorley's A&E department

More than 120 bikers joined a demonstration this morning calling for Chorley And South Ribble Hospital's A&E department to be reopened.

Sunday, 22nd May 2016, 10:28 am
Updated Sunday, 22nd May 2016, 12:31 pm

They set off from Rivington and rode together to the weekly protest held at the main entrance of the hospital.

The bikers wanted to show their support to the campaign calling for the A&E unit to be reopened.

And once they arrived at the hospital, they spent a minute revving their engines before joining the campaigners in the demonstration.

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Steven Turner, organiser of the Protect Chorley Hospital Against Cuts And Privatisation group, said he was “absolutely delighted” that the bikers attended.

He said: “Everybody is in good spirits anyway, but it really made a big difference on a damp day and raised everyone’s spirits to a higher level to see them.

“It was fantastic.”

Susan Rigby, from Rivington Barn Bikers Group, said: “I was absolutely blown away. It was amazing.

Bikers join the protest calling for Chorley Hospital's A&E unit to be reopened. Picture by Coun Mark Perks

“The response from everybody was phenomenal.”

There were around 400 people outside the hospital this morning, many carrying placards calling for the department to be reopened.

People travelled from as far away as Huddersfield, where there is a campaign to prevent the closure of the A&E department there.

Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle and borough councillors attended the protest again, as well as patients and Chorley residents of all ages.

Bikers join the protest calling for Chorley Hospital's A&E unit to be reopened. Picture by Coun Mark Perks

Leyland councillors Claire Hamilton and Matthew Tomlinson joined today’s protest, before collecting signatures for a petition in Leyland town centre as they take the campaign to South Ribble.

Chorley’s A&E unit shut last month, with hospital bosses blaming staffing problems, and was replaced with an urgent care centre, which cannot treat serious or life-threatening cases.

Hundreds of people have taken part in demonstrations at 10am every Saturday since the department closed.

Steven said: “People are coming back every week and we are seeing new faces as well.

“People are absolutely determined to make sure that the A&E is opened. That’s the driving force behind it.

“We said we would demonstrate in front of the hospital every week until it opened and that’s what we intend to do.”

The campaigners are also organising a march through Chorley town centre on Saturday, June 11, which they hope thousands of people will attend.

And there were more than 100 people at a protest in Whittle-le-Woods on Thursday evening.

The bells of St John’s Church rang out to call people to the demonstration on Kem Mill Lane and they signed a petition opposing the closure.

People also wrote personal messages about A&E on tags to attach to a tree and they will be given to hospital bosses.

Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Chorley And South Ribble Hospital, said: “We are doing everything we possibly can to recruit the staff we need so that we can reinstate a safe and sustainable emergency department service at Chorley Hospital.

“We are competing with hospitals across the country for a very small group of specialist staff, and we need the local community, as well as other groups including councils, MPs and partner organisations, to work with us to support our recruitment drive and present our hospitals as a great place to work, so that emergency department doctors choose to come to work in Chorley and Preston.”