STRUCTURE: A long-awaited public consultation on the future of community hospitals on the Fylde Coast has been put back again, until “at least the summer” - a year after it was due to take place.

NHS Blackpool had planned to the launch of the consultation – which a 2011 report by the primary care trust suggested could lead to the closure of four hospitals – earlier this month.

But an NHS Blackpool spokeswoman told HSJ: “The launch of the consultation has been delayed until at least the summer. That is due to the changes the organisation [NHS Blackpool] is currently going through.”

The consultation was originally intended to take place last summer, but became the focus of controversy months beforehand.

In January Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust closed a 10-year-old private finance initiative unit, Wesham Hospital, saying the move was an “interim transfer” of services pending “full consultation”.

Lancashire’s health scrutiny committee referred the closure to health secretary Andrew Lansley. He replied in May 2011, saying he was “reassured proposals for change affecting Wesham hospital will be included as part of the wider public consultation exercise… planned for later this year”.

He added: “I believe that given the circumstances, the best course of action now should be for this consultation to proceed in due course.”