A SOD-CUTTING ceremony has signalled a new chapter in the history of health care in Burnley.
It marked the beginning of a £9m. urgent care centre, which, if work keeps to schedule, will open next autumn.
The two-storey building at Burnley General Hospital will replace the existing urgent care department.
Hospital bosses earmarked the site as soon as Health Secretary Andrew Lansley approved the East Lancashire Hospitals’ Trust bid for the cash in March. It will include a minor injuries unit for children and a GP out-of-hours service.
The development will have its own car park, with a road from the Briercliffe Road entrance and have corridors linking it with wards and treatment areas in the newest part of the hospital, Phase 5, which was opened in May 2006 at a cost of £33m.
MP Gordon Birtwistle was asked to perform the honours at the sod-cutting and took to the driving seat of a JCB to do the job.
He said the battle to have an urgent care centre in Burnley had been a long one, but that it had been well worth fighting.
“This is a great day, marking the end of a five and half year campaign to stop A and E services being transferred from Burnley. Now we have got 90% of our services back,” he said.
“This is a great day for the people of Burnley who have fought a long and hard campaign for their hospital services that were transferred to Blackburn three years ago. I would also like to thank the Burnley Express for supporting the campaign in such a high profile way, that help has been vital in this battle.’’
He was joined for the ceremony by hospital staff, representatives of the building firm Kier Construction and hospital Trust chairman Mrs Hazel Harding. She said: “I am delighted that this scheme is now under way. This new development will strengthen our ability as a Trust to continue to manage services in line with our estates strategy to provide excellent facilities in an improved environment that the local community can truly benefit from.”
The man in charge of the project for the Trust, director of estates and facilities Martin Morgan, said: “The timescales we have set ourselves are challenging but the progress we have made to date has been good. The new facility demonstrates the Trust’s continued commitment to the investment programme on at Burnley General.”