Chorley’s A&E department will be reopening - probably from January – it has been confirmed.
The department, which closed in April due to staff shortages, will now reopen for 12 hours a day, most likely from January.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust had initially said that its decision to close the unit would not be reviewed until April 2017.
However a report from NHS Improvement, the health watchdog, has said that the unit could be reopened on a 12-hour basis with its current level of staffing.
Trust Chief Executive Karen Partington said: “The new provider taking over the urgent care centre from January gives us the opportunity to redeploy our staff and work in a different way so that we can safely reinstate the emergency department part time.
“We have just successfully appointed a middle grade doctor, and will be continuing to try to recruit more, as well as extra consultants and nurses to ensure the service is sustainable.
“Until we can make these further appointments, our staff have agreed to work extra hours to keep the service running and we thank them for their continued support and commitment.”
The closure of Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s A&E has been the subject of fierce protests, and campaigners are planning a trip to London on Monday to demand that it is reopened full time.
Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “We welcome the report and its findings and a lot of what the clinicians say is in line with what we have been saying all along.
“We certainly welcome the recommendation to re-open the A&E on a part-time basis but I don’t personally see why we need to wait until January as the report clearly states that the current staffing levels should provide a basis for a part-time re-opening of the emergency department.”
Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle, who has been an active part of the protests over the closure, said: “I am very happy that with the recommendation that the unit should reopen.
“Since April I’ve been calling for this and I hope that we can see action very soon.”
In a joint statement, Lyn Simpson, Executive Regional Managing Director, for NHS Improvement in the North and Richard Barker, NHS England Regional Director for the North, said: “We welcome the findings of the report and are committed to working closely with the Trust and CCGs to implement the recommendations in such a way that ensures the continued provision of safe and effective services to the people of Chorley, Preston and the surrounding areas.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the independent panel for their detailed and thorough work, and for taking the time necessary to approach this review in a comprehensive and rigorous manner. That would not have been possible, either, without the commitment shown by the Trust, CCGs and local system to reaching a solution that meets the needs of its patient population, and is safe and sustainable in the way in which it will be delivered.
“In addition, we would like to acknowledge the views and concerns expressed by other stakeholders including Members of Parliament, local councillors and members of Lancashire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, and members of the public, who have voiced support for their health services.
“It is important that we see the publication of this report as a milestone and take the opportunity to move forward, working together to implement the recommendations in such a way that the Trust can continue delivering the care that its population deserves.”
Jan Ledward, Chief Officer of Chorley and South Ribble CCG and Greater Preston CCG and Chair of the system resilience group, said: “We welcome the outcome of the review into the temporary closure of the emergency department at Chorley Hospital.
“Along with the other system resilience group partners, we will support Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in moving forwards to open the emergency department on a 12-hour basis, as recommended by the reviewers.”