Chorley A&E to stay open after government intervenes

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Chorley and South Ribble Hospital A&EImage source, Google
Image caption,
Chorley and South Ribble A&E was temporarily shut in 2016 and 2020

A hospital emergency unit marked for potential closure is set to stay open after the health secretary intervened.

NHS leaders in Lancashire said Matt Hancock has told them to develop "high-quality care" incorporating Chorley and South Ribble Hospital's A&E through the government's hospital-building plan.

The facility has undergone periods of closure since 2016 due to staff shortages and coronavirus.

Local officials have said they aim to "make hospital services better".

Temporary closures

Previously a group of medics had said the A&E was not "clinically viable", the Local Democracy Reporting Service reports.

Their conclusion followed the closure of the then 24-hour department in 2016 due to a shortage of doctors. The following year, it reopened for 12 hours a day.

It was shut again in March 2020 as part of a plan to tackle the pandemic before reopening in November for nine hours a day in a decision that angered doctors at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, leading 17 consultants to write a letter describing it as "misguided and dangerous".

The facility's future had been in doubt after a planned public consultation suggested it could be replaced with an urgent care centre.

Local officials have now confirmed they have stopped the proposed consultation, saying they "have decided to make hospital services better through the government's New Hospital Programme".

Future plans

In a statement, a spokesperson said the process "reflects the new options available to the local NHS".

"In the meantime, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the clinical commissioning groups are working to restore the provision of emergency services at Chorley emergency department to the commissioned service model."

The future of Chorley A&E will now be explored as part of an assessment on either of two new hospitals to replace the Royal Preston Hospital and Royal Lancaster Infirmary, or a so-called "super-hospital" for the whole of Central and North Lancashire.

However, it could be between seven and 10 years before any new facilities are built.

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We expect local partners to work together to ensure safe and efficient services are accessible for all."

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