Thousands of people braved heavy rain to voice their anger over the closure of Chorley Hospital’s A&E department.
Campaigners marched through the town on Saturday, alongside angry and worried residents, despite claims the department will reopen this summer – although that’s subject to conditions.
Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “The community came together. People wanted to show their strength of feeling. They feel aggreived and do not accept the decision to close A&E.
“People will not tolerate it.”
The town’s A&E was closed in April due to an acute staffing crisis, and has been downgraded to an urgent care centre ever since.
A statement from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says, providing certain conditions are met, the unit could be open again by the end of August.
The community came together. People wanted to show their strength of feelingMP Lindsay Hoyle
But Mr Hoyle, who joined protestors, said he is hearing horror stories from his constituents about nearby casualty departments, including at Preston, Wigan, and Blackburn.
“Wigan had to stop and say, ‘Only serious injuries come to A&E’,” he said yesterday.
“We know Blackburn and Preston have long delays. People are waiting in ambulances outside A&Es, and we have private ambulances running around Lancashire.
“These things are happening because of the closure of Chorley’s A&E. I’m sure it will be easier to recruit staff for Chorley than put the pressure on other A&Es.”
Karen Partington, chief executive of the trust, said it was a ‘challenging period’, and said: “It’s clear how important the emergency department is to the Chorley community – people have made their views clear at the weekly protests, and we’ve received lots of letters and emails expressing concern.
“I’d like to assure everyone that our board is committed to reinstating the emergency department as soon as we have enough doctors to provide a safe and sustainable service.”