STRUCTURE: Primary care trusts in Blackpool and North Lancashire are preparing to consult local residents on the possible closure of four hospitals across the Fylde coast, board documents reveal.

According to a report on NHS Blackpool’s quality, innovation, productivity and prevention plans for 2011-12, the Fylde coast health economy needs to make savings of £129m by 2015.

It states that a “public consultation is now being planned which will result in a significantly reduced estate (possible closure of four hospitals) and other changes to service provision”.

The area covered is served by NHS Blackpool and NHS North Lancashire, mental health provider Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and acute trust Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust. The acute trust operates six hospitals but only one, Blackpool Victoria, is a district general hospital.

Although a spokeswoman declined to identify which hospitals would be proposed for potential closure, one of them will almost certainly be the 40 bed Wesham Hospital.

Blackpool closed the rehabilitation unit in January as a “short term measure pending public consultation”. The move formed part of an emergency package of measures to restore the trust’s “financial stability” (news, page 6, 14 April).

The consultation on estate reduction, which sources expect to begin in the summer, builds on work the region began in 2006.

A “planning for the future” group has aimed to move more care into the community through the development of primary care facilities and targeted secondary care investments, such as telehealth and day case operating theatres.

A joint statement from the trusts and PCTs said: “A review of the whole of the NHS estate and the services provided is underway to look at how we can maximise its use to best meet the needs of patients now and in the future.

“We will be focusing on providing more care out of hospital in the community and closer to people’s homes, whilst ensuring hospital based care is available for those who need it.”