No inquiry into hospital closure

Wesham Hospital / view
Wesham Hospital / view
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THE controversial closure of a popular Fylde hospital will not be investigated by the Government, it’s been revealed.

Campaigners outraged at Wesham Hospital’s closure had hoped Health Secretary Andrew Lansley would step in and hand the hospital a lifeline by ordering Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to reverse its decision.

But Mr Lansley – who had the issue referred to him by Lancashire County Council’s health scrutiny committee – has now said he is happy for the decision to be examined by the hospital’s own consultation process.

In a letter seen by The Gazette he said he felt “given the circumstances” this was the “best course of action”.

The area’s county councillor, Liz Oades, alerted the scrutiny committee to the closure and said she was “disappointed” by the secretary of state’s response.

She said: “Mr Lansley has sent a letter to the county council saying he is going to leave it for the consultation. I’m underwhelmed and very disappointed by the response.

“I just hope when it does go to consultation he will keep an eye on it.”

The Trust’s decision to close the hospital sparked outcry after the facility was axed without any consultation back in January.

All the patients were moved to Clifton Hospital, St Annes, and it later emerged the trust had sought legal advice sought as to whether they could close Wesham Hospital over “pure financial considerations” rather than clinical evidence.

A consultation has been promised for later this year, but campaigners fear it will now be much harder to save the dormant facility.

Wesham Coun Linda Nulty said: “I’m disappointed by Mr Lansley’s response but I’m not surprised at this stage.

“Now it’s closed it’s much more difficult to justify it opening again but I hope now we will be given the time-scale to do the consultation properly, and include previous patients, staff and concerned residents.

“It has had an impact on people in our area. The public in this area are up in arms about it and there will be a good response to consultation as long as people know when it is.”

It is not yet known when the consultation, which will look at healthcare provision across the Fylde Coast, will take place.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies added: “In light of the Secretary of State’s comments I would again urge the Hospitals Trust and the other local NHS organisations to come together and make this consultation happen as soon as possible. I hope they will listen to the views of the people of Fylde very carefully.”