Wigan health bosses fears over Chorley A&E closure plans

Health bosses in Wigan are concerned about the impact on its hospitals if a review of Chorley’s A&E unit leads to its closure.

Monday, 2nd September 2019, 9:37 am
Updated Monday, 2nd September 2019, 10:37 am
Wigan Infirmary could face more pressure if a nearby hospital closes its A&E department

Contingency plans have been put in place by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) in case the department is shut permanently.

It follows a large increase in the number of patients travelling from the neighbouring borough when its A&E unit was closed temporarily in 2016 due to staffing issues.

The A&E department at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital reopened in January 2017 on a part-time basis, but a review is now being carried out into its future.

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A report found it was not “clinically viable” to retain A&E facilities there - though returning the current service to a 24-hour operation is one of 13 options still under consideration.

If the facility ceases to provide A&E care, patients may instead seek help at Wigan Infirmary.

Chief executive Andrew Foster said: “Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust is aware of the current review looking into the proposed closure of the Chorley A&E department.

“As there were extra attendances to the Wigan Infirmary site between April 2016 and January 2017, when the Chorley hospital department was temporarily closed, it is evident that permanent closure would certainly have some impact on WWL.

“The executive board at WWL is very concerned about the impact the closure could have and contingency plans are in place should this occur.”

Mr Foster has previously said that the last time the A&E unit closed, Wigan’s facility had eight extra attendances and two admissions per day from patients who would have otherwise gone to Chorley.

There was a massive rise in the number of patients taken there by ambulance from Chorley and South Ribble between April and December 2016, jumping from 109 the year before to 617.

The joint committee of the Greater Preston and Chorley and South Ribble clinical commissioning groups met this week to whittle the 13 options for Chorley’s A&E unit down to eight, but decided to keep them all on the table.

It instead voted to carry out more detailed work on all of the options - including the reinstatement of a round-the-clock A&E facility and proposals to downgrade it to one of two versions of an urgent treatment centre.

Committee members also agreed to make a fresh call to the Government to determine whether there is any possibility of funding being found for a so-called “super hospital” in central

Lancashire, which would see a new facility built on a single site to replace both the Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals.