AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled by hospital bosses in East Lancashire as they gear up to become independently-run.

Major developments in cancer treatments, orthopaedics and other specialisms have been revealed as part of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust's forward plan.

Fifteen consultants and a number of specialist nurses, midwives and a psychologist are included in proposals for the next five years, during which time the hospital's board hope to secure 'foundation trust' status.

An initial three posts in the oncology (cancer) unit are being recruited, supported by a specialist nurse, with a view to adding a fourth early next year.

Efforts are also being made to expand orthopaedic surgery across the trust, with two consultants, one with an upper-limb speciality, being put in place.

An extra dermatology consultant, treating skin conditions, is part of the plans, as is another urology expert, two more emergency surgeons, general surgeons and an orthgeriatrician, specialising in caring for older patients with fractures, alongside supporting nurses, also form part of the proposals.

Keyhole surgery in East Lancashire should also benefit with the recruitment of three new positions and new theatre equipment, as the trust bids to become a leading location for the discipline.

And more midwives are being sought for the neo-natal intensive care unit based at the Burnley General Hospital site.

David Kirkham, the trust's service development manager, said in a board report that the strategic plan would be reviewed quarterly to ensure progress was being made.