Staff at Preston’s already hard-pressed A&E unit clocked on today fearing a tidal wave of extra patients.
Within 24 hours of the announcement that Chorley’s emergency department was closing there were reports of a significant increase in people arriving at the regional trauma centre at the Royal Preston Hospital.
It was bedlam on Thursday - and that was four days before Chorley was due to closePatient
“It was bedlam on Thursday - and that was four days before Chorley was due to close,” said a patient being treated for a suspected broken ankle. “Goodness knows what it will be like today.”
Preston is one of four hospitals where ambulance crews will now take serious cases which would have gone to Chorley. It is an extra 14 miles by road, the same distance as Bolton, with Blackburn and Wigan slightly closer.
The ambulance service says it will try to “mitigate the impact” on those neighbouring hospitals, with Chorley remaining open from 8am to 8pm as an urgent care centre.
Even before the decision to downgrade Chorley, the A&E services at Preston were already stretched to breaking point. Trolley logjams were said to be commonplace, with paramedics waiting to hand over patients.
Ambulance liaison officers have now been deployed to speed up transfers, so crews can get back on the road.
Operations director Suzanne Hargreaves told the Evening Post recently: “When all of the cubicles in our emergency departments are already full we do sometimes see a delay. We are also planning to bring in additional nurses who will focus on taking the handovers from the ambulance crews.”