The Chief Executive of the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust is due to appear before county councillors today to explain how a shortage of six middle grade doctors brought Chorley hospital’s accident and emergency service to a halt.
Karen Partington will outline how despite extensive efforts it has been impossible to recruit enough staff to the hospital’s team. Measures have included bringing in GPs to provide additional support for the emergency department.
A special ten page briefing paper is being presented to the county council’s Health Scrutiny Committee this morning as anger rises over the way the Chorley emergency service was closed on April 18 to be replaced by a daytime (8am -8pm) urgent care service. This is able to treat minor injuries and illnesses but not life threatening conditions.
The report warns that consultants had been working extra shifts to cover staffing shortage and says: “The Emergency Department consultants have raised a significant concern about patient safety.”
It reveals that the staffing crisis had been growing for the previous 18 months as the hospital took measures to recruit staff, employ agency doctors and - over the past six months- to “transform urgent care”.
Councillors say they want to know the rationale for the decision to temporarily close the accident and emergency department and will debate what steps the council can take next.
The council has also demanded to know if any consideration is being given to closing the accident and emergency department at Chorley permanently.