Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle has called on health bosses to site Lancashire’s new “super hospital” on land that furniture giant IKEA no longer wants.
The deputy speaker of the House of Commons says the shock news that the furniture giant will not be building a new megastore at Cuerden near Bamber Bridge after all could open the door for a purpose-built health facility to replace the ailing hospital services in Preston and Chorley.
READ MORE: Ikea pulls out of Cuerden site
Health chiefs have already been looking at potential sites near to the motorway network to build a state-of-the-art regional trauma centre.
Now the body blow delivered to central Lancashire by IKEA in the past 10 days could turn out to be a gilt-edged solution to the area’s growing healthcare problems.
READ MORE: South Ribble Ikea site: What now?
“We need a new hospital and surely now this is a great opportunity,” Sir Lindsay told the Post.
“A lot of development has already taken place and now the company has pulled out. So why not make the best of it with a brand new hospital which will benefit the whole community?”
As many as eight possible sites close to the M6/M61/M65 network are thought to have been earmarked for consideration in a radical overhaul of hospital facilities in Preston, South Ribble and Chorley.
Health chiefs are said to be looking at schemes which could involve the closure of both the Royal Preston and Chorley Hospitals - two centres which have been struggling to meet demand.
A single site option could mean both being shut down and services amalgamated into one “super hospital” between the two. Other suggestions include merging the two in either Fulwood or Chorley.
Progress on resolving the issue could be announced as early as this autumn, although the delivery of a new hospital could take at least five or six years.
Sir Lindsay, who has been a prominent campaigner to restore full Accident and Emergency facilities at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital - it currently only offers the service between 8am and 8pm - said the departure of IKEA could offer a ready-made solution.
“A new hospital on a huge site like this would allow us to bring in extra specialist services and have a super regional centre that can do more specialisms and a major trauma unit taking trauma cases from a wide area while still keeping both Chorley and RPH.
“It was Government land and the council (LCC) got it for next to nothing because it was ex-Central Lancashire New Town. So now is the time to put some money back into the community and put a state-of-the-art hospital on that site for the benefit of everyone.
“It was one of eight sites originally considered before the council decided to cash in and go for the money (with IKEA).
“It has great transport links - you couldn’t get a better position.”
A spokesperson for the Our Health Our Care programme, which has brought together local NHS and social care organisations in central Lancashire to consider how services can be made sustainable for the future, said: “We are working with clinicians, partner organisations and members of the public to come up with ideas about how we ensure that local people continue to have access to high quality, safe health and care services, now and in the future.
“No decisions have been made about how or where services might be delivered, but people will be able to share their thoughts with us over the coming months.
“Before any decisions are made, we are committed to formally consulting with the public, local communities and stakeholders about potential ideas for change.”