How Chorley Hospital's A&E unit was downgraded
Following the news that under new plans Central Lancashire is likely to be served by a single A&E unit, we look at how Chorley Hospital's A&E unit was downgraded.
1. The A&E unit at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital was closed very suddenly in April 2016. It later reopened, but only on a part time basis - 8am to 8pm.
2. Ever since the first closure, there has been a vociferous campaign to reopen it on a 24/7 basis, supported by many local people who have staged demonstrations, petitions and marches.
3. The closure was caused by severe staff shortages, with the hospital Trust saying it was unable to recruit enough people to safely staff the A&E departments at both Preston and Chorley's hospitals. For the last two years, the Trust says it has attempted repeatedly to recruit extra staff - particularly at junior doctor level - but has been unsuccessful.
4. There is an Urgent Care Centre at Chorley, which is open 24 hours a day, but this cannot deal with major trauma or serious medical conditions. The Urgent Care Centres at both Preston and Chorley's hospitals are run by a private company - Manchester-based Go To Doc.
5. The closure of Chorley's A&E has seen an increase in waiting times at Royal Preston Hospital, particularly for ambulances, whose crews have reported waits of up to an hour to hand over patients. This has had a knock-on effect on the ambulance service's response times.
6. Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyel has called for the site at Cuerden, which was to be an IKEA, to be used to build a super hospital for both towns, while keeping the hospital sites at Chorley and Preston to deal with non-trauma cases.
Health chiefs suddenly shut the A&E department in April 2016, saying it was not viable because of staffing issues.
It was turned into an urgent care centre in January 2017