• Staff from Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s emergency department to be transferred to Royal Preston Hospital
  • Service in Chorley has long been fragile due to workforce shortages, and any changes have been politically sensitive

An acute trust in Lancashire will temporarily close one of its emergency departments, with staff sent to bolster the workforce at its main hospital during the covid-19 outbreak.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust is to transfer staff from the emergency department at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital to Royal Preston Hospital.

The service in Chorley has long been fragile due to workforce shortages, and any changes have been politically sensitive.

It was temporarily closed in 2016, before reopening as a 12-hour service. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, there was an ongoing process to review the configuration of acute services across the trust.

Karen Partington, chief executive, said in a statement yesterday: “We will make decisions based on recommendations from leading clinicians and health care specialists. All the decisions have been made with the support of the trust board, clinical commissioning group, integrated care system, NHS England and NHS Improvement.

“This move will allow us to harness all our available resources on a single site with the largest intensive care units, in order to better care for our patients.

“In addition, it will reduce the risks associated with transporting infectious patients between locations.

“Diluting our approach would unnecessarily put lives at risk. I would ask the public at this time to be understanding of the measures we are taking and the reasons behind them.”

The move has been criticised by local MP, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who has long campaigned to keep the department open.

University Hospitals Birmingham FT has also temporarily closed the children’s emergency department at its Good Hope Hospital site.