Pressure on Wigan’s A&E department looks set to continue as hospital bosses in Lancashire announced Chorley’s A&E will not reopen until at least April.
The unit at Chorley And South Ribble Hospital has been closed since April due to staffing problems.
It was expected to reopen this month, but last week Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced it still does not have enough staff.
It has now confirmed the department will be shut until April - 12 months after its doors were closed.
A statement from Jan Ledward, chairman of the system resilience group, and Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Since April 18 when the accident and emergency department at Chorley Hospital had to close unexpectedly due to a shortage of middle grade doctors, the local system resilience group (SRG) has been meeting weekly to review the staffing position, the actions being taken to reinstate the service, and the impact of the temporary changes for both Chorley and Royal Preston Hospitals.
“Despite extensive and continuous efforts to recruit the additional staff required, there are still not enough doctors to reinstate a safe and sustainable Chorley A&E department. There are currently only two permanent middle grade doctors in post and seven are needed.
“Today the SRG reviewed and carefully considered a detailed risk assessment of the potential options for the ongoing delivery of the emergency and urgent care services at Chorley Hospital.
“The SRG has decided that it has no other realistic option but to maintain the current service of an 8am until 8pm urgent care service at Chorley Hospital as the best way of ensuring the delivery of safe and sustainable care for patients. This will be reviewed again in April 2017.
“Lancashire Teaching Hospitals will continue to do everything possible to recruit the staff required to enable the department to be reinstated.”
The continued closure means that patients from Chorley and South Ribble will still have to go to other hospitals, including Wigan Infirmary.
There has been “unprecedented demand” on Wigan’s A&E in recent months. It saw 900 extra patients between April and June compared to the year before, with more than 600 of them coming from Chorley and the surrounding area.
A&E departments usually see an increase in the number of patients attending in the winter months, so the situation could become worse.
Patients have been urged to stay away from the unit unless they are seriously ill or in a life-threatening condition.