Hundreds gathered outside the threatened Chorley Hospital A&E to protest controversial plans for its closure.
More than 500 people attended the demonstration outside the A&E on Preston Road today after plans for the hospital to be downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre, which cannot treat serious or life-threatening cases, were announed earlier this week.
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle spoke passionately at the protest, which saw concerned residents holding banners and cardboard signs reading ‘Save our A&E’.
He told a cheering crowd: “Poulton, Lancaster, Blackburn, Preston are not having closure - so why are we? Well we’re not. The strength of feeling today will tell everybody we won’t accept this closure. We will continue to fight, and management must walk out of the door if they can’t deliver and let somebody in who can deliver.”
He later said: “People were united in voice and in soul for their A&E. Every vehicle that went past was honking their horns and shouting their support. They have underestimated the strength of people in this area.
“This closure would affect nearly a quarter of a million people. Nobody in their right mind would do this.
“This is the economics of a madhouse, and the scary thing is that they are playing with people’s lives.
“Preston can’t cope with 20,000 more patients in their A&E.
“They’re putting the whole of Lancashire at risk.”
Chorley councillor Mark Perks, who also joined the crowd of concerned protestors, said: “There was a big crowd. Grandparents and families with children were there.
“It’s the first time I have ever been on a protest and I think it’s important that the council shows its support that the town keeps its A&E.
“Everybody was well-behaved and respectful and showed their passion for our NHS. It shows the people who make these decisions that ordinary people will spend their morning showing their support for something they feel passionate about.
“Chorley Hospital is a superb hospital. It provides a vital service because you never know when you might need it, and having to travel to Preston is really not a good option.
“If it’s an emergency and you have to travel 15 minutes up the motorway to get to a hospital, you’re wasting vital time. It could cost someone their life.
“I feel very passionate about our A&E and we feel very strongly that it needs to stay open.”
Mr Hoyle added that senior management had ‘a lot to answer for’ over the plans.
He said: “There are people working very hard in the NHS and when they need the support from senior management it isn’t there. I feel like they have been let down.
“Actions speak louder than words and right now we’re not seeing any actions.”