Chorley Hospital campaign dispute leads to departure

Campaigners have been fighting for the future of services at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital
Campaigners have been fighting for the future of services at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital

A row has broken out within the campaign to preserve the Accident and Emergency department and other services at Chorley Hospital.

Two of the most prominent faces of the group “Protect Chorley Hospital From Cuts and Privatisation” have clashed – resulting in one of them quitting and the other being banned from its Facebook page.

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Steve Turner stepped down from his role as co-chair days after he blocked well-known campaigner Jenny Hurley from the group’s main social media site.

Ms Hurley said she believed she had been frozen out in response to a post in which she had called for unions to be more vocal when NHS services are outsourced to the private sector. Mr Turner stated in an email published online that he had instead acted because of other “awful posts” which he felt “undermined” the group’s work.

But the move sparked condemnation from dozens of members. One warned that the campaign was being harmed by “suicidal backstabbing” and another said that NHS bosses would be “laughing” at the fact that campaigners were fighting amongst themselves.

Many of the original threads discussing the matter have now been removed. Several members called for the comments which had purportedly led to the banning – and which are thought to have involved other NHS campaigns elsewhere in the country – to be published in full.

When contacted by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Turner declined to comment on the situation “out of respect for those still involved with the campaign”. He is now understood to have joined a separate group.

Ms Hurley said that the Facebook group from which she has been blocked was initially established as a union-backed page, but has been part of the wider community campaign since January 2017, when it went through a period without any union involvement.

“I will not participate blindly in a witch hunt, none of us will. We will carry on with the job at hand and that is to save our NHS from privatisation – anything else is trivial and petty in comparison,” she said.

“We will keep telling the truth and questioning the powers that be. We have enormous support and if anything this has only added to it.”

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has attempted to contact the now sole chair of the Protect Chorley Hospital group for comment.