HEALTH campaigners fighting for the return of Burnley General Hospital’s A&E department have been given a ray of hope.
The town’s MP, Gordon Birtwistle, quizzed Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on recent findings by The College of Emergency Medicine which state that if a hospital A&E unit is to be downgraded to an urgent care centre, the nearest emergency department should be no more than 12 miles away.
Mr Birtwistle asked Mr Lansley if he would consider revisiting the cases of A&E departments that were recently downgraded to urgent care centres by the previous Government in areas where the nearest emergency unit is more than 12 miles away such as Burnley. Mr Lansley promised to speak further to Mr John Heyworth, of the College of Emergency Medicine, on the proposals.
He also said that there is a need to be much clearer about the nature of the service provided in A&E departments and the distinction between that and the service provided in minor injury or minor illness centres.
Mr Birtwistle said: “The College of Emergency Medicine says that it does not recognise what an urgent care centre is.
“From its point of view, hospitals should either have an emergency department or an A&E or they should not. It is clear that Burnley General Hospital is in desperate need of having its A&E fully reinstated.
“It is clear that the current label of urgent care centre is ambiguous and that Burnley residents are getting a poor deal in the limited services provided there.
“It is also clear that Blackburn cannot cope with the inflated patient numbers and I am hearing horror stories from patients there on a daily basis.
“I will continue to press the Health Secretary on this issue to ensure that the case of Burnley A&E is looked at again. The current situation is completely unacceptable.”