Super hospital plan for region

Royal Preston Hospital
Royal Preston Hospital

BOTH Preston and Chorley hospitals could be demolished to make way for a new ‘super hospital’ outside the city.

Health bosses are discussing the proposal to replace Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble hospitals with a new purpose-built centre.

It is understood areas close to the motorway around Bamber Bridge/Clayton Brook/Lostock Hall have been identified as possible sites.

A masterplan has been drawn up outlining a list of options as part of a radical overhaul of how healthcare is organised in the future.

A single-site option with the ‘disposal’ of both hospitals is under investigation. Other options include closing Royal Preston Hospital and consolidating all the care in Chorley, or closing Chorley and providing all care in Preston.

Prof Mark Pugh, medical director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and Clinical Design Group chairman and a member of the Your Hospitals Your Health (Our Health Our Care) Joint Programme Board, said: “Hopefully this autumn we’ll be coming out again to the public where we think there are reasons we need to change and look at the options.

“We’re at a stage where hopefully this autumn we’ll be coming out again to the public where we think there are reasons we need to change and look at the options.”

He added: “One of the options is a single new hospital.

“Whatever the options we look at, the minimum time to deliver it will be five or six years.”

A spokesman for the Our Health Our Care programme said: “All NHS organisations have a responsibility to plan for the future sustainability of services, ensuring that they are appropriate, effective and fit for purpose.

“In 2015/16, work was undertaken by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with a range of stakeholders including members of the public, to consider possible models of care for the future.

“Included in this was a range of potential options for the future of the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital sites.

“Through this work, it became clear that there are opportunities to deliver services in a radically different way, but that this can only be achieved by working with partners, and looking at solutions across the whole health economy, including primary and social care as well as hospital services.

“The Our Health Our Care programme has been established to consider ways to deliver services differently across Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of our residents in the future.

“Over the next six months, clinicians will develop a range of potential options, and we will be asking the public to help us design these. Any changes to services under the programme will be subject to a formal public consultation.”

The Our Health Our Care programme consists of representatives from NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, local councils and NHS England specialist commissioners.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I would welcome further investigation into a super hospital - but can you trust Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust to being up front.”

He added: “I would like to see what’s on the table, what’s on offer.

“You’ve got to look at it, if you don’t Preston and Chorley would lose out to Manchester and that’s the real difficulty.”

UNISON Central Lancashire health branch secretary Pete Smith said: “In theory, the proposal to build a super hospital between Chorley and Preston sounds like a good idea and could potentially solve some of the recruitment problems currently experienced by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.

“Clearly there is an immediate need for people in Chorley to have easier access to A&E services than they currently have.

“However, no proposals have been put to us yet and we would have concerns about the details.”

Steve Turner, of the Protect Chorley Hospital Against Cuts And Privatisation campaign group, said: “We invited Karen Partington (chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust) to one of our meetings.

“She went through this long list of options of options and how they were going to reshape services in central Lancashire.

“One of them was closing both down and building a new hospital which would be in Clayton Brook.

“To get a new super hospital built might take six years. But on top of that it would have to serve 1.3 million people and we fall under that remit.

“It would mean having to bring in South Cumbria with us to make the numbers up, that’s my understanding of it.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “We are aware that the hospital trust is thinking about locating all their services on one site but they’ve not formally approached us with a plan for this.

“Anything that would improve services for residents and would offer better value for money would be welcomed but first things first they have got to sort out the mess they are currently in.

“At the moment the trust has lost the confidence of residents so they need to make changes and win back the support of the people they serve before they start talking about future plans, which have no real substance at this time.”

Preston MP Mark Hendrick dismissed the proposal for a new hospital in central Lancashire as “pie in the sky”.

He said: “ My view is that it’s pie in the sky. I don’t think it will ever happen. I do think it’s a nice idea but the costs involved would be chronic. I can’t see any government of any political persuasion going ahead with it.”