THE Accident and Emergency department at Chorley Hospital will close on Monday due to lack of doctors.

Staff shortages have resulted in the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust announcing it was no longer able to keep open A&E facilities at both Chorley and Preston.

The hospital will operate as an Urgent Care Centre until staffing issues involving mid-grade doctors can be resolved.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust cited 'patient safety' for the decision.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle has slammed Lancashire Hospital Trust management for their failure to staff Chorley’s A&E department.

He said: "The Trust have made clear that due to a staffing shortage the A&E department at Chorley will close on Monday 18th April quoting “patient safety” as the reason why treatment cannot continue.

"This shortage in staff has not just occurred in recent weeks and while the problem has been growing, managers have failed to respond accordingly.

“The plans to close A&E at Chorley are a reflection of poor planning, a failure to recruit and a continual trend of services being shifted from Chorley to Preston. "I have continually warned about the shift of all emergency services to Preston and now we have seen this come to fruition. This is not a response to an unforeseen crisis but looks much more like a planned move.

“The Trust quote patient safety as the reason for closure.

"How can you prioritise patient safety by closing an A&E department, forcing people to travel an extra half hour to Preston and place an additional 50,000 people on an already overcrowded A&E department at Preston.

"This is absolute nonsense.”

UNISON Branch Secretary Pete Smith said: “This is a sad and worrying day for people in Chorley.

"The down-grading of the A&E department is not due to any reduction in the needs of the local community.

"It is a consequence of decisions taken by the Conservative Government to starve the NHS of adequate resources. "For years the share of national income spent on our NHS has been falling.

"This has resulted in increasing pressures on staff – and now the recruitment problems are so bad that the A&E can no longer function.

"Jeremy Hunt should come to Chorley to see how his Government’s underinvestment is in danger of wrecking our NHS.”

Leader of Chorley Council, Alistair Bradley, said the NHS in Chorley was in 'crisis'.

He said: "These things don't happen overnight.

"Systematic underinvestment from Government has led to this over a period of months and years.

"The A&E department serves tens of thousands of people in Chorley and South Ribble and is key to people's wellbeing.

"I'm sure people will be furious as to how it has come to this and will be holding the trust, and the Department of Health to account."