Pendle MP asks NHS chief to probe Burnley A&E downgrade

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Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has asked if the impact of the downgrading of Burnley General Hospital’s accident and emergency department will be looked at as part of an investigation into high mortality rates in local hospitals.

Mr Stephenson has written to Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of NHS England, who will be carrying out the review, on the matter.

In February, Sir Bruce announced an investigation into hospitals that are persistent outliers on mortality indicators. Sir Bruce identified East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (which covers Burnley General and the Royal Blackburn) as one of the trusts that would be investigated.

While the reasons for high mortality rates in East Lancashire hospitals could be down to a range of different factors, the Pendle MP feels the A&E situation should not be overlooked.

Despite huge public outcry, Burnley’s A&E department was downgraded in November, 2007, with services moved to Blackburn, and an urgent care centre was set up in its place to deal with less serious cases.

The MP said: “The unpopular decision under the previous government to downgrade Burnley A&E in 2007 had a big impact on other hospitals in the area and its impact is still being felt today.

“Any investigation into high mortality rates in our local hospitals needs to look closely at this flawed decision and the impact it has had.”

Sir Bruce’s review of the trust will commence on June 4th.