Chorley residents are being failed by managers of the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust, according to the town’s MP.
With news that a Lincolnshire hospital may close its A&E at night times due to staff shortages, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle believes this makes the full closure of Chorley’s A&E ‘even more unacceptable’.
Chorley and South Ribble Hospital A&E closed its doors in April because it could not recruit enough doctors - meaning ambulances had to be diverted to nearby Preston and Wigan A&E departments.
Now, managers at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust are considering closing Grantham A&E part-time due to similar problems.
In light of this, the MP has reinforced his original plea for creative solutions in order to support A&E services at Chorley.
Mr Hoyle said: “The United Lincolnshire Trust manages three A&E departments.
“At this stage they are considering having to close Grantham A&E at night times.
“My question to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust is why could they not close our A&E at night and continue the operation during the day as opposed to closing it completely? Why now can we not operate A&E during daytime hours?
“We all know there is a shortage of doctors but other Trusts appear more able to cope with this and protect A&E services.
“I firmly believe that even a partial re-opening would also help recruit doctors for the future.
“There was a rush to close A&E at Chorley but no such rush to find a solution to re-opening the department.”
But Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust does ‘not have enough doctors to provide a safe and sustainable emergency department 14 hours a day, which is the minimum requirement stipulated by NHS England to reinstate a part time service’.
She said: “We hear the concerns of local people and understand the support for reinstating an emergency department even on a part time basis, however, the current arrangements are our best option to maintain safe care whilst we are continuing to do everything we can to secure the staff we need to reinstate the service.
“The Royal College of Emergency Medicine has reaffirmed only today that there is a national shortage of emergency department doctors, so please be assured that it’s not for want of trying that we haven’t been able to appoint the staff we need.
“Lincolnshire too is experiencing problems staffing its department as is north Manchester and Middlesex.
“Our priority must be to provide a service that is safe for patients, and maintaining the urgent care centre at this time is the best way to achieve that.”
Dr Gail Lumsden, consultant in emergency medicine, said: “It is the emergency department consultants’ expert opinion that in the current circumstances providing an urgent care centre 12 hours a day, seven days a week is a much better and safer option for our patients, than trying to reinstate a part time emergency department service.
“At this time a part time emergency department service would be open fewer hours than the urgent care centre, and would not be reliably staffed.
“Our first duty of care is to our patients. We would only ever agree to decisions that are in the best interests of patients. We believe the rationale for the decisions that have been made are clear, though we understand that people are concerned.
“We have invited Lindsay Hoyle MP and other stakeholders to meet with us, the doctors and nurses within the emergency department, so we can explain in detail why the current arrangements are best for patients.
“Emergency department consultants have led the efforts to recruit the extra doctors we need. This includes recruitment drives, assessing promptly every CV we have received, and arranging interviews quickly.
“Any suggestion that every effort hasn’t been made to secure the doctors we need is entirely inaccurate, and diminishes the hard work we’ve been doing to resolve this situation.”