Chorley Hospital staff unite against further cuts

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital
Image caption The hospital is currently subject to efficiency savings over a two year period with Royal Preston

Staff at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital are "frightened" about its future, the union Unite has claimed.

Steve Turner, secretary of the Chorley branch of Unite, said: "Staff morale is at a low ebb. They are very concerned."

The union held a meeting earlier over worries that the proposed Health and Social Care Bill, or further spending cuts, could force it to close.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs it, said it had no plans to close the hospital.

'Bare bones'

Chorley Hospital and Royal Preston Hospital, Fulwood, which is also managed by the Trust, are currently subject to a total of £21m in efficiency cuts over two years which will end in April 2012.

Mr Turner claimed staff "feel very vulnerable" because of the government's plans to reform the NHS and make up to £20bn of efficiency savings.

"The hospital is down to the bare bones already and £20bn of spending cuts nationally is bound to have an impact and this would put Chorley Hospital under threat," he said.

"It is understaffed now and without doubt staff are frightened about job losses in the future."

Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust, said the efficiency targets are "being achieved by implementing more effective ways of working".

"Delivering such significant savings in this and future years will inevitably result in some change as we aim to protect frontline services and jobs.

"However, I would like to reassure local patients and staff that there are no plans to close Chorley and South Ribble Hospital and we remain committed to providing the highest standards of care."

The public meeting at St Joseph's Club in Chorley saw the official launch of the campaign group "Defend Our Hospital against privatisation and cuts", which has the backing of Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle.

The Labour MP, who spoke at the meeting, said he was "committed" to protecting Chorley Hospital.

"I was born at Chorley Hospital and having lived here all my life I have always valued the first class service provided by a team of professional and dedicated staff."

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