Politicians have demanded to know when Chorley And South Ribble Hospital’s A&E department will reopen.
Councillors from both sides of the chamber called for it to be reinstated “as a matter of urgency” at a special meeting of Chorley Council tonight.
The A&E unit shut on Monday, with bosses blaming acute staffing problems. Instead the hospital has an urgent care centre, which cannot treat serious or life-threatening cases.
A notice of motion from council leader Coun Alistair Bradley and deputy Coun Peter Wilson, said the council was “deeply concerned” about the impact on residents.
Coun Bradley said: “When will this unit, that has been closed temporarily, be reopened? That is the question many of us have been asking for the last 10 days, since we have known it was happening, and it’s a question we will keep asking because Chorley does not have an A&E.”
Coun Paul Walmsley said his niece Jessica Knight would not have survived if the unit had been closed when she was stabbed at Astley Park in 2008.
Coun Mark Perks said he was “really shocked” when he heard A&E would close.
Concerns were raised about the impact on other hospitals, while questions were asked about why the problem was so serious in Chorley.
South Ribble MP Seema Kennedy and Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle also spoke.
Mr Hoyle said: “We have managed to go from last Monday, a 24-hour seven-day-a-week A&E, to an 8am to 8pm week in a sticking plaster operation. What the heck has gone wrong?”
In a written response, hospital bosses said they would “continue to do everything possible” to get the staff needed and reopen A&E.
Preston Council also discussed the A&E this week, with a debate calling for the chief executive to write to Jeremy Hunt, local MPs and the hospital trust, expressing the council’s “absolute dismay at this latest crisis to health services which will impact on people in Preston”.
Conservative councillors abstained from the vote, after calls for references to the “failure” of Jeremy Hunt and government to provide adequate funding to be removed from the notice of motion were rejected by Labour.
The full notice of motion discussed by Chorley Council said:
“Chorley Council expresses its alarm at the decision taken by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust to close the accident and emergency department at Chorley And South Ribble Hospital.
“The council recognises the importance of the A&E service here in Chorley and is deeply concerned about the impact its closure will have on our residents, in particular the additional burden that will be placed on Preston Hospital and the capacity to deal with all emergency cases in an appropriate manner.
“The council recognises the financial pressures faced by the NHS and the national shortage of doctors, but is deeply concerned that the problem at Chorley And South Ribble appears to be more acute than anywhere else and therefore asks the trust for an explanation as to why this is the case and what efforts have been made to recruit staff and avoid closure.
“Given the concerns about treatment and quality of care for Chorley residents, and the potential uncertainty and impact this could have on staff with regard to jobs, we ask that the A&E department at Chorley Hospital is reopened as a matter of urgency.”