Chorley’s hospital could be demolished to make way for a new ‘super hospital’.
Health bosses are already discussing the shock proposal which could also result in Royal Preston Hospital being bulldozed, too.
It is understood the Bamber Bridge/Clayton Brook/Lostock Hall area has been identified as a site for the major new development if the option was chosen.
A masterplan has already been drawn up outlining a list of options as we face a radical overhaul of how healthcare is delivered in the future.
A single site option with the ‘disposal’ of both and Chorley and South Ribble District Hospital and Royal Preston Hospital is under investigation.
Another stark option on the masterplan list is to no longer provide acute complex care as a Trust and retain both Preston and Chorley sites for elective care and local emergency services.
Health chiefs say any changes to services will be subject to a formal public consultation.
Chorley’s hospital has already suffered a blow this year when it’s A&E department closed in April due to staff shortages.
Prof Mark Pugh, who is Medical Director at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and Clinical Design Group Chairman and a member of the Your Hospitals Your Health (Our Health Our Care) Joint Programme Board, said: “We’re looking at new options at the moment. We’ve done some pre-consultation work about 18 months ago.
“We’re at a stage where hopefully this autumn we’ll be coming out again to the public where we think there are reasons we need to change and look at the options.”
He added: “One of the options is a single new hospital.
“Whatever the options we look at, the minimum time to deliver it will be five or six years.”
A spokesperson for the Our Health Our Care programme said: “All NHS organisations have a responsibility to plan for the future sustainability of services, ensuring that they are appropriate, effective and fit for purpose.
“In 2015/16, work was undertaken by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with a range of stakeholders including members of the public, to consider possible models of care for the future.
“Included in this was a range of potential options for the future of the Royal Preston Hospital and Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital sites.
“Through this work, it became clear that there are opportunities to deliver services in a radically different way, but that this can only be achieved by working with partners, and looking at solutions across the whole health economy, including primary and social care as well as hospital services.
“The Our Health Our Care programme has been established to consider ways to deliver services differently across Chorley, South Ribble and Greater Preston to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of our residents in the future.
“Over the next six months, clinicians will develop a range of potential options, and we will be asking the public to help us design these. Any changes to services under the programme will be subject to a formal public consultation.”
The Our Health Our Care programme consists of representatives from NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Chorley and South Ribble Clinical
Commissioning Group, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, local councils and NHS England specialist commissioners.
Commenting on the possibility of a new ‘super hospital’ for Lancashire, Unison Central Lancashire health branch secretary Pete Smith, said: “In theory, the proposal to build a super hospital between Chorley and Preston sounds like a good idea and could potentially solve some of the recruitment problems currently experienced by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.
“Clearly there is an immediate need for people in Chorley to have easier access to A&E services than they currently have.
“However, no proposals have been put to us yet and we would have concerns about the details.
“In a context where the NHS is facing underfunding from central government, we would be nervous that a change of this scale could prioritise cost savings over service improvement.
“Lancashire needs more hospital capacity, not less, so it is important that the plans do not involve a reduction in staff or beds.
“There will be issues around ensuring that staff, patients and their families can all access a new site quickly, cheaply and easily.
“There will also be concerns about what happens to the local economies around the current sites.
“Once we have seen a clear plan then we will consult with our membership regarding the proposals.”
Steve Turner, of the Protect Chorley Hospital Against Cuts And Privatisation campaign group, said: “Just before, I think October or November last year, we invited Karen Partington (chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust) to one of our meetings.
“She went through this long list of options of options and how they were going to reshape services in central Lancashire.
“One of them was closing both down and building a new hospital which would be in Clayton Brook.
“To get a new super hospital built might take six years.
“But on top of that it would have to serve 1.3 million people and we fall under that remit.
“It would mean having to bring in South Cumbria with us to make the numbers up, that’s my understanding of it.”
“Three options were going to go out to public consultation but that got put on the back burner.”
Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “We are aware that the hospital trust is thinking about locating all their services on one site but they’ve not formally approached us with a plan for this.
“Anything that would improve services for residents and would offer better value for money would be welcomed but first things first they have got to sort out the mess they are currently in.
“I’d urge the trust to concentrate on the priority of getting the A&E in Chorley re-opened as soon as possible, as they have promised they will do, but have yet to deliver.
“At the moment the trust has lost the confidence of residents so they need to make changes and win back the support of the people they serve before they start talking about future plans, which have no real substance at this time.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I would welcome further investigation into a super hospital - but can you trust Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust to being up front.”
He added: “I would like to see what’s on the table, what’s on offer.
“You’ve got to look at it, if you don’t Preston and Chorley would lose out to Manchester and that’s the real difficulty.”
He said a new central Lancashire hospital could also serve parts of Cumbria and even Yorkshire.
“It’s on the edge of Chorley, on the edge of South Ribble and on the edge of Preston.
“And it wouldn’t mean you won’t retain a facility at Chorley anywhow.
“They can’t close Chorley because you don’t want it clogged up as it is now. You need some kind of facility to back it up.
“It could take all the major trauma and Chorley could take the minor trauma. Chorley would go back to where it was.
“You would have a super hospital that deals with life-saving incidents - helicopter ambulances flying into it.
“Yes, we’ve got to have a new super hospital to deal with where medicine’s going, but that doesn’t mean to say you won’t have some kind of facility at Chorley.”