Campaigners turned out in force for a protest march calling for Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s accident and emergency department to be reopened.
The temporary closure of the unit since April has been cited as a “contributing factor” to the increased demand on Wigan Infirmary’s A&E.
Patients in Wigan have been urged not to visit A&E unless they have a life-threatening emergency or are seriously ill.
There has been “unprecedented demand” in the past seven months, including a four-fold increase in the number of people attending with a Chorley postcode.
On Saturday, thousands of people walked through the streets of Chorley calling for the town’s A&E unit to be reopened.
The campaigners have held protests at the hospital’s entrance every Saturday since the unit was shut due to staffing problems and replaced with an urgent care centre, which cannot treat serious or life-threatening cases.
But Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, says that provided certain conditions are met, the unit could be open again by the end of August.
Professor Mark Pugh, consultant anaesthetist and medical director, said: “Our recruitment team and emergency department consultants have been working tirelessly to secure the additional staff we need.
“If all of the new trainee doctors we have been allocated actually report for work this August, and we are able to appoint one more permanent doctor, and can continue to fill any gaps with locums; we will have sufficient doctors.
“If we achieve that staffing position we hope to be able to reinstate the department from the end of August; however we can’t give any guarantees.
“Whilst we continue to make every effort to secure all the doctors we need, if we do not have the right number we won’t be able to reinstate the department in August.”
Hospital bosses in Wigan are continuing to remind people to choose the right place for treatment for minor ailments, such as pharmacies and the out-of-hours GP service.
It is hoped doctors and nurses can then focus on the most poorly patients in A&E.