Concerns about staffing Chorley And South Ribble Hospital’s A&E department were flagged six years ago, it has been revealed.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust placed staffing its A&Es on its “risk register” in 2010.
A national shortage of doctors choosing emergency medicine and a reliance on locums were blamed, with the agency cap becoming an issue more recently.
The problem was escalated as a concern to Monitor in August last year and the A&E unit shut last Monday, replaced by an urgent care centre.
The situation was discussed at a special meeting of Chorley Council on Friday, with written information provided by the trust. Coun Adrian Lowe said: “I have read in some of the papers that it has been on the radar since 2010, not only particularly late 2015. Why is it more acute here? What steps have been taken?”
Afterwards, Karen Partington, chief executive of the trust, said there was a national shortage of emergency medicine doctors and many hospitals have a combination of permanent and locum staff.
She said: “Most hospitals with an emergency department will have identified this staffing issue on their risk registers. Our risk register is regularly reviewed by the board. To mitigate the emergency department staffing risk we have taken a range of actions over the past few years.”
She said measures taken included the trust asking for a review of the number of people on a junior doctor training programme, recruiting both nationally and internationally, offering a recruitment premium to emergency medicine doctors, enhancing staff bank pay and not implementing the agency cap.