CHILDREN in Pendle have been let down by health bosses and the Government.
That was the damning verdict from parents and campaigners after Health Secretary Andrew Lansley announced he will not intervene in the decision to close the town’s Deerplay Children’s Ward.
The transfer of all paediatric inpatient facilities to the Royal Blackburn Hospital was implemented under the controversial Meeting Patients Needs programme introduced in 2006 – the same proposals which saw the removal of “blue light” emergency services from Burnley in November 2007.
Mum-of-four Mrs Deanne Kidd, whose children have spent time on the ward, said: “I’m devastated. I would like to have hope that we have still got a chance but I’m losing it.
“This decision is letting down children and letting down families. I don’t know how they can get away with it.”
But Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said there was still a glimmer of hope and vowed with campaigners to continue the fight.
Mr Birtwistle said: “I’m obviously disappointed. The problem we’ve had right down the line is that the decision was made in 2006.”
He said the only hope for the return of the children’s ward would be the proposed GP Consortia, planned by the Government under healthcare reform.
“We are carrying on. If we can get the support of the GPs and the population there is a chance. We have lost the first minor battle but the war still carries on.”
Coun. Darren Reynolds, who has also been involved in the campaign, attacked the decision: “This is a complete failure of the democratic process and I’m ashamed to be involved in it,” he said.
“The voters, the taxpayers, the patients, the staff and everyone else in Burnley wants the Children’s Ward re-opened.
“Lib-Dem party policy is for direct elections so that ordinary people can take over the running of the PCT and make these decisions themselves. A watered-down version of that even made it into the Coalition Agreement.
“But Andrew Lansley has torn this up and is attempting to impose his own personal policy of washing his hands of any decisions and leaving it all to GPs to reconsider in two or three years’ time.
“That is simply not good enough.”
Former chairman of Burnley NHS Trust and health campaigner Mr Azhar Ali said: “This is another kick in the teeth for the People of Burnley and Pendle whose health services are being moved bit by bit to Blackburn.”
Mr Ali has called for a meeting with bosses at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to discuss the decision and seek assurances about the future of Burnley General.
Parents and campaigners had staged marches through Burnley to protest against the ward closure and travelled to Preston where they demonstrated outside County Hall.