Surgery debate: Boss steps in

PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Coun Peter Goldsworthy has hot out at the PCT for failing to deliver a super surgery planned for Chorley
PHOTO: NEIL CROSS'Coun Peter Goldsworthy has hot out at the PCT for failing to deliver a super surgery planned for Chorley

Bosses at a huge Chorley employer have pleaded with health bosses to come clean over plans for a new super surgery in Chorley.

The Chorley Group, who employ 200 people in the town, have been leasing their site on Friday Street for 12 years - the same site where the Primary Care Trust want to create a new surgery.

It means the Chorley Group have only ever been able to secure a three month lease - and face the constant threat they will be forced out when a surgery is finally brought in.

Andrew Turner, managing director of the Chorley Group, said: “I have no objections to the site being a health centre whatsoever.

“If that is what the local community are in need of and that is the only place that is suitable, then I have no problem with it.

“But I employ nearly 200 people in Chorley and every time someone says they are backing it people think ‘am I going to be in a job in three months?’.

Plans for the surgery were first mooted over a decade ago but were put on hold due to a lack of cash.

During the 12 years the company has been leasing the site it has changed ownership from Chorley Council to the Primary Care Trust.

The much-awaited plans were brought to the forefront once again when Chorley Council announced this year they wanted to invest £6.5m in kick-starting the project.

Mr Turner said: “It has changed ownership so we have had a new landlord, but (the lease) has always stayed the same.

“They need to make a decision.

“If the decision is I have to go, then I have to go. But there is little point expecting me to invest any more.”

Mr Turner says the company has spent almost £1m in the last 12 years in rent, maintenance and improving the site.

He said: “It is not fair on us as a local business.

“I fully understand there are politics involved but I think it could be done in a more professional way.

“All we are trying to do is build, maintain, and employ people in the town.

“We are not out for a fight but it would help if we knew where we are going and what we are doing.”

Following contact with the Guardian the PCT has agreed to renew Chorley Nissan’s lease for 12 months.

Colette Crowther, NHS Central Lancashire’s senior operating officer, said: “Since the scheme was first proposed the environment has changed significantly. The NHS is undergoing a major transition as it implements the health reforms and supports the development of GP-led clinical commissioning groups.

“As such the PCT and NHS Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group are in discussion about the best way to proceed with a scheme that provides the best possible services to local people, provides value for money and is affordable.

“In view of this the PCT has renewed the lease for a further period of 12 months ending on 31 March 2013.”