Lancashire nostalgia in 1996: NHS beds shortage; food banks; and Oasis double

The Royal Preston Hospital is facing an unprecedented beds crisisThe Royal Preston Hospital is facing an unprecedented beds crisis
The Royal Preston Hospital is facing an unprecedented beds crisis
Here's a look at some of the stories that were making the headlines back in 1996:

Just 12 NHS beds to spare in RPH crisis

The Royal Preston Hospital was facing its worst ever beds crisis - with just 12 available.

Worried health chiefs fear the situation will get even worse and are battling to cope with the influx of emergency admissions at the 600-bed hospital.

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Mark Arthur is said to be a dead ringer for Noel GallagherMark Arthur is said to be a dead ringer for Noel Gallagher
Mark Arthur is said to be a dead ringer for Noel Gallagher

All eight intensive care beds are occupied. No admissions are being made to the unit.

Steve Ashcroft, chief executive of Preston Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “This morning we only had 12 empty beds. We always have to have empty beds for emergencies but the pressure we are under now is probably the worst we have seen in the hospital’s history.

“At the moment, everyone who needs a bed will get one. It would be unique if every bed was full but if it happens, patients would have to be turned away.”

Mr Ashcroft also said that non-urgent admissions for operations have had to be cancelled.

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The crisis has been brought on by a combination of factors, such as the recent bad weather and the flu epidemic, which again has had a tremendous effect on admissions, especially from older people.

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Look back at a selection of pictures from 1996 here

Bank that serves up food, glorious food

A pioneering new initiative is helping feed the needy and is tackling the problem of wasted food.

More than 30 companies donate surplus goods to the South and West Lancashire Food Bank organisation.

In turn, volunteers distribute the food to more than 20 registered charities, which serve meals for the needy in Lancashire.

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Homeless people, old folk, orphaned children, disabled people and women in refuges in towns like Preston, Chorley, Southport and Skelmersdale have benefited from the food bank’s work.

There are 400 food banks in North America, where the concept first started, but the Skelmersdale-based centre, funded by private backers, is the first of its kind in Britain.

However, more companies are being urged to get involved, so the food bank can help more people and charities.

Co-ordinator Linsey Street said: “It is a chicken and egg situation.

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“We could reach more charities and more people, but we don’t have enough companies donating food yet.”

The aim of the food bank is to distribute safe and healthy food and other useful products such as toiletries.

Oasis star’s double has gotta roll with it

Some might say... it would be great fun to be mistaken for a pop star, but, for one man, being a lookalike is turning into a living nightmare.

Traders at Oasis gigs around the country make a fast buck out of selling stick-on eyebrows to youngsters striving to look like Oasis star Noel Gallagher.

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But 21-year-old Lancashire lad Arthur Stewart needs no artificial additives - he’s the spitting image of the chart-topping hero known for his hell-raising rock and roll image.

Although it might sound like fun to be asked for your autograph or having women giggle and stare at you, for Arthur is has just become part of his everyday life - and a touch embarrassing.

Arthur, of Twemlow Parade, Heysham, said: “It was funny at first and my mates think it’s hilarious.”