Campaigners battling to save Chorley Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department are in full voice as they take their fight to Westminster today.
Two coaches packed with 80 protestors left Chorley on Monday morning in a major show of strength and unity, to call for support to re-open the centre.
The group is set to hand in a petition of 23,000 signatures to call for its reopening, ahead of a rally in the capital.
Hospital bosses had confirmed the department would re-open part time, probably from January, but the Chorley Hospital against Cuts and Privatisation group is demanding a full-time A&E.
“The bottom line is we want a 24-hour A&E service reinstated”, said campaigner Louise Pajak.
The former nurse, 41, said: “ I became involved because there’s been a knock-on effect to other local hospitals, and that’s been apparent when you go to Wigan in terms of waiting times and beds.
“A lot of people are having to go to Bolton, there are ambulances queued outside Wigan as well as Preston.
“ We are going down because we recognise there’s joint responsibility to provide these vital services between the Trust and the Government.”
Louise said the group wanted a 24-hour service reinstating in Chorley, and also had concerns about privatisation of the urgent care service.
She said: “We want to raise the profile nationally and we want to put pressure on people in authority to make the service a 24-hour service.”
Following the pledge to reopen the department on a part-time basis, Louise said: “Our concerns are they have backtracked on their word before.
“ So really, until we’ve got something concrete, we’re not going to give up the fight.
“We don’t think 12 hours is enough.
“ You could turn up and have to wait, and then what happens if you run over the 12-hour period?
“So I think there would be difficulty managing that situation.
“ When you think Chorley and South Ribble is one of the largest developments in Europe for housing, and our services are shrinking, that’s just not good enough.”
Campaigners were in full voice from 7am, with singing, chanting, banners and musical instruments.
Louise said: “We’ve lost our A&E, but I think we have gained a community spirit.”