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Review recommends reopening 12-hour A&E in Chorley

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s Emergency Department could reopen on a part-time basis, a team of expert reviewers has found.

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Although a definite date for this is still being finalised, in order to ensure safe and high quality patient care, reopening is likely to be in mid-January.

The independent review panel, jointly commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement, looked at the current arrangements at both Preston and Chorley hospitals, to ascertain whether the department at Chorley could reopen, within the current medical staffing available.

The review was requested by both local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Lindsay Hoyle MP, supported by a broad range of other stakeholders. Following detailed and intensive work, supported by staff at the department, the Trust’s executive team and the two CCGs, the panel has today published its final report. 

The report details the key finding that the Trust will be able to reopen a 12-hour emergency department and recommends this option.

The report found, however, that it isn’t feasible to reopen the department on a 24-hour-a-day basis. Having the emergency department reopened at the same time as the opening of the new 24-hour urgent care centre, integrating the two services, will provide additional resilience. This is an opportunity to enable the service to reopen without compromising patient safety.

It has been agreed that it would not be practical or safe to open the department before then, because it would require staff to work excessive hours, and would compromise the major trauma centre at Preston.

Full implementation of the recommendations will only be possible when the urgent care centre is fully operational and is in place to provide additional resource where required.

With those necessary arrangements in place the emergency department at Chorley would reopen, between the hours of 8am and 8pm, likely in mid-January.

Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The new provider taking over the urgent care centre from January gives us the opportunity to redeploy our staff and work in a different way so that we can safely reinstate the emergency department part time.

“We have just successfully appointed a middle grade doctor, and will be continuing to try to recruit more, as well as extra consultants and nurses to ensure the service is sustainable. Until we can make these further appointments, our staff have agreed to work extra hours to keep the service running and we thank them for their continued support and commitment.

“Temporarily replacing the emergency department with an urgent care centre was one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to make, however it was the best possible option to provide safe care in the circumstances.

“We know this has been a matter of great concern for local people and are deeply sorry for the anxiety this has caused.

“We thank NHS Improvement and NHS England for commissioning the independent review, and the review team for carrying out the work so quickly.”

In a joint statement, Lyn Simpson, Executive Regional Managing Director, for NHS Improvement in the North and Richard Barker, NHS England Regional Director for the North, said: “We welcome the findings of the report and are committed to working closely with the Trust and CCGs to implement the recommendations in such a way that ensures the continued provision of safe and effective services to the people of Chorley, Preston and the surrounding areas.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the independent panel for their detailed and thorough work, and for taking the time necessary to approach this review in a comprehensive and rigorous manner. That would not have been possible, either, without the commitment shown by the Trust, CCGs and local system to reaching a solution that meets the needs of its patient population, and is safe and sustainable in the way in which it will be delivered.

“In addition, we would like to acknowledge the views and concerns expressed by other stakeholders including Members of Parliament, local councillors and members of Lancashire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, and members of the public, who have voiced support for their health services.

“It is important that we see the publication of this report as a milestone and take the opportunity to move forward, working together to implement the recommendations in such a way that the Trust can continue delivering the care that its population deserves.”

Jan Ledward, Chief Officer of Chorley and South Ribble CCG and Greater Preston CCG and Chair of the system resilience group, said: “We welcome the outcome of the review into the temporary closure of the emergency department at Chorley Hospital. “Along with the other system resilience group partners, we will support Lancashire Teaching Hospitals in moving forwards to open the emergency department on a 12-hour basis, as recommended by the reviewers.”