A dummy coffin will be carried through the streets to the entrance of Lancashire’s major trauma unit at the weekend as the fight to have Chorley’s A&E re-opened spreads to other hospitals.
The solemn “funeral” procession will arrive outside the Royal Preston Hospital at 10am on Saturday to highlight what campaigners believe is a life or death situation now facing accident and emergency services in the region since Chorley closed in April.
“The mock coffin is a symbol of how serious we feel the situation is now at other hospitals which have been affected by the closure,” said Andrew Birchall, one of the protest organisers.
“Preston has felt it badly - we know that from talking to staff who work in A&E there. It’s like a war zone sometimes with people waiting on trolleys and ambulances queueing outside for up to six hours.
“The Trust told us they could cope, but Preston hasn’t been coping. And it’s nowhere near the winter period yet when A&E departments always come under pressure.
“Goodness knows what it’s going to be like if they don’t re-instate Chorley by then. It will be a tragedy and they will have deaths on their hands.”
Chorley was closed as an A&E in April and replaced with an 8am to 8pm urgent care centre. The Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced at the time it was a “temporary” measure. But it will now stay in force until at least next April.
Campaigners have been mounting protests outside the hospital every Saturday since closure. This weekend will be the 23rd and will include demonstrations outside Preston, Wigan, Bolton, Blackpool and possibly Blackburn and Lancaster (all 10am to 11am).
“We aren’t going to give up. We’re determined to continue putting pressure on the Trust until they see sense and re-instate our A&E unit,” added Andrew Birchall.
“We have had a terrific response from supporters across the region saying they will turn out on Saturday and make it a massive show of feeling in support of Chorley. If anyone else out there wants to turn up at any of the hospitals then they would be made most welcome. We have to show the Trust they’ve got it so wrong.”