THE long-awaited reopening of Chorley and South Ribble Hospital A&E department could be delayed by another six months, campaigners have claimed.
The department was supposed to reopen at the end of August, but hospital bosses yesterday refused to rule out a further delay.
Chorley’s A&E was shut in April because of an acute shortage of doctors.
Campaigners fighting to resurrect the department said they were told at a meeting this week that it could be January before the doors open.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said last night it was unable to confirm whether it has managed to recruit the necessary numbers to reopen the department, or to clarify if there was any possibility it could reopen next month.
Campaign group Protect Chorley Hospital From Cuts and Privatisation has now called for the resignation of bosses at the trust, claiming they have not been working hard enough to recruit the necessary staff to reopen the A&E.
This ‘vote of no confidence’ was discussed in a campaign meeting which attracted more than 200 people at Chorley Town Hall on Monday evening.
Steve Turner, campaign organiser, said: “People are extremely angry that our A&E might not be reopened in August.
“Despite all the promises that have been made by the trust, we were told at the meeting that it now may not open until January, by a reliable source.
“The trust has been regurgitating the same information since the A&E department closed back in April - and we’re very disappointed about this.
“I’m not sure if they were ever serious about reopening the A&E and that’s what we are concerned about.
“There are ways around this situation and they don’t seem to be doing them and we fear that we’re so far down the line now it’s indicated that we won’t be reopening.
Steve said the group is now calling for the resignation of board members because they ‘have no faith’.
“We keep getting put off,” he added. “Our A&E is closed and it’s costing lives.
“Chorley and South Ribble is a growing area and to be without an A&E is just not substantial.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle also spoke at the meeting on Monday night to support the reopening of the department.
He said: “We have got loads of promises from the trust but actions speak louder than words and we want action... we need a real solution.
“People no longer trust or believe what the trust is saying and people are getting angry and more upset.”
The MP also said he is receiving complaints from patients about the overcrowded hospitals they are being sent to instead of Chorley - such as Preston, Wigan and Blackburn.
He added: “We need this resolving.
“Even if it is just part-time opening hours, at least it’s a way forward.
“Please let’s do the right thing by the people of Chorley and South Ribble and the people of Lancashire who are also struggling because of this.”