THE man in charge of the Fylde coast’s hospitals today warned there would be fewer beds in wards across the area as part of a new five-year cuts plan.
Aidan Kehoe, chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said more resources would be ploughed into “community care” instead of allowing people to stay in hospital.
Speaking at Blackpool Council’s health committee meeting yesterday, Mr Kehoe said there would be a public consultation about the plan for the future of local hospitals in the next few months.
He added: “We’re quite happy to go to consultation and be driven by that and the views of stakeholders.
“One of the things we’ll try to do is to get people to see we can get a good service with less hospital beds.
“If someone with a respiratory problem starts to deteriorate, we need to pick that up early and treat them at home, rather than there being an emergency trip to the hospital.
“We can change the model and provide better care switching the focus from care in hospital to care in the community.
“With the pressure to deliver better services in a more cost effective way, we are going to have to look at fairly big changes. Local health trusts need to slash £129m by 2015.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is currently working with colleagues at local primary care trusts to put together a public consultation document.
Rumours have previously circulated four Fylde coast hospitals were under threat of closure.
Wesham Rehabilitation Hospital was mothballed earlier this year when facilities were moved to Clifton Hospital and there have been rumours of planned closures of Clifton and Fleetwood Hospitals.
But Mr Kehoe suggested otherwise.
He told The Gazette after the meeting: “We’ve got a good range of services in Blackpool, we’ve got to provide these levels elsewhere.
“In my mind we need to have a big hospital in Fleetwood, it’s a big area with a large population. I would want to develop Fleetwood.
“When North Lancashire Primary Care move out, we’re going to have empty areas.
“I’d hope we can expand the range of services. It could be a community centre with health and other services such as council or voluntary services. He also said he would like to develop Clifton Hospital, which he described as a “great facility”.