A&E campaigners plan Wigan demo
Campaigners are organising a demonstration in Wigan to highlight the impact of the closure of Chorley's A&E department.
People are being encouraged to show their opposition by joining the protest outside Wigan Infirmary’s A&E unit.
The demonstration will be held from 10am to 11am on Saturday, September 17.
It will coincide with similar protests at hospitals in Preston, Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Blackpool and Lancaster.
It is being organised by campaign group Protect Chorley And South Ribble Hospital From Cuts And Privatisation, which has held demonstrations outside Chorley’s A&E department every Saturday since it was shut in April.
Campaign organiser Andrew Birchall said: “Our campaign was given the bad news last week that Chorley And South Ribble accident and emergency department will be closed until April 2017. We believe this is a move to close it indefinitely. The effects of this are rippling out to A&Es in other areas.
“This isn’t good for these other A&Es and the people they are intended to serve.
“It is having a negative effect on the North West Ambulance Service, some ambulances queuing for hours to hand over sick or injured people.
“Ask yourself these questions, If not me, then who? If not now, then when?
“The NHS will survive as long as there are people willing to protect it, we are those people.”
Chorley’s A&E unit was closed four months ago amid staffing problems and replaced with an urgent care centre, which cannot treat people who are seriously injured or in a life-threatening condition.
It was hoped the department would reopen this month, but Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted it still does not have enough doctors.
Instead, the unit will remain closed until April, when a review will take place.
The closure has led to an increase in the number of patients visiting Wigan A&E in recent months, with an average of 7.5 people per day attending from Chorley or the surrounding area.
Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust have asked patients to seek treatment elsewhere if possible and to only go to A&E if they are seriously ill.
The impact is also being felt elsewhere, with reports of patients waiting for up to seven hours in A&E at Royal Preston Hospital and ambulances queueing outside.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy is worried about the effect on Wigan A&E when winter comes as there is traditionally a rise in the number of patients.
She has called for the Government to step in to reopen the department in Chorley.