Concerns have been raised over a mobile theatre operated by a private company being used reduce waiting times at Chorley and South Ribble District General Hospital.
The Protect Chorley Hospital Campaign group has voiced fears that the move means staff are being ‘stood down’ and an existing theatre is being left empty and unused.
But the chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Karen Partington, has quashed the rumours, denying that there are plans to privatise the hospital.
And she has even said more staff are being employed to tackle the waiting list problem.
The worried campaign group penned their frustrations in a letter to Leyland councillor and elected member of the Governing Council of the Trust, Coun Ken Jones.
They claimed: “We have been told two wards are in mothballs and may be leased to a private healthcare company dealing in eye treatments.
“A private company is doing operations in a mobile unit theatre, while a theatre stands empty in the hospital and staff are being stood down while this private company is called in to bring waiting lists down.”
Coun Jones communicated the concerns to Trust chief executive Karen Partington.
In a response, she wrote: “I would like to assure you, unequivocally, that there are no plans to either close nor privatise Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.
“We experienced an unprecedented increase in emergency admissions to hospital between February and April 2013.
“The consequence of this was that we had no option but to postpone elective procedures for a number of patients to ensure we had the resources available to look after people with urgent care needs.
“However it is important those patients awaiting elective procedures receive timely care, and we also need to make sure cancer and critically ill patients can access prompt treatment.
“Although the Rivington theatre was not being fully utilised, it does not provide the right type of facilities nor have the right equipment to undertake the type of procedures patients were waiting for, and refurbishing this theatre would have been too expensive and delayed care for more patients.
“So as a temporary measure to provide the right type of additional theatre capacity and extra staff to enable us to speed up access to treatment for patients awaiting elective procedures, we brought a staffed mobile theatre to Chorley and South Ribble Hospital.
“We are in the process of implementing a theatre efficiency programme to make sure we are using our valuable operating theatres as effectively as possible, and are recruiting additional staff to enable us to deliver prompt, high quality treatment for our patients going forwards.”
Coun Jones concluded: “There is an emphatic statement in the clearest possible terms that there is no privatisation agenda.
“Not only can attest to the integrity of Karen Partington, no one in her position could possibly survive providing such an undertaking were it not 100 per cent true.”