We're stepping up the fight to save A&E
Determined campaigners are ratcheting up the pressure on health bosses in a bid to get Chorley's A&E department reopened.
Furious protesters were further outraged when it was announced last week that the department – shut down temporarily in April – will not now open until at least next spring.
Now the group, Protect Chorley and South Ribble Hospital from Cuts and Privatisation, is taking the sustained campaign to Parliament in October.
But before then, it is organising a Lancashire-wide demonstration outside six hospitals.
Two coachloads of around 100 campaigners will head to London on October 10.
Steve Turner, of the campaign group, said: “We should be taking about 100 people.
“We’re planning to ask for a meeting with Jeremy Hunt and if we can’t do that to have a meeting with all North West MPs down at the House. We are actually working with other community groups and trying to link quite a few together.
“We’re meeting with Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley MP) to sort the arrangements out for when we get to Parliament.”
On Saturday, September 17, a one hour protest, between 10am and 11am, is planned outside Preston, Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool and Lancaster hospitals.
Campaign group member Andrew Birchall has issued a rallying call for support for the hospital demos, saying; “Our campaign was given the bad news last week that Chorley and South Ribble Accident and Emergency department will be closed until April 2017, we believe this is a move to close it indefinitely. The effects of this is rippling out to A&Es in other areas.
“This isn’t good for these other A&Es and the people they are intended to serve.
“It is having a negative affect on the North West Ambulance Service, some ambulances queuing for hours to hand over sick or injured people.
“Ask yourself these questions, If not me, then who? If not now, then when?
“The NHS will survive as long as there are people willing to protect it. We are those people.”
Mr Turner said: “We’re speaking to the communities of those A&Es who are effected by the closure of Chorley. That’s co-ordinated action to show what the closure is having on other A&Es.”
On the regular Saturday morning protests that have taken place outside Chorley Hospital since the A&E closure announcement, he said: “We’re committed to being there every Saturday, come what may.”
Meanwhile, he praised supporters at Chorley FC’s season-opening home match with FC United on Saturday, where hospital campaigners were out in force.
“We had about 20 people leafleting outside as the fans came on and put up banners,” he said. “Chorley FC have been very supportive of our campaign.
“The reaction from both sets of fans was great. They were coming up to us saying, ‘you’ve got to keep this fight going’.”