HEALTH bosses will ‘invest to save’ as they aim to close a £572million funding gap the next four years.

That is the projected health and social care funding gap for Lancashire and South Cumbria, running up to 2020.

An estimated £160million will be required to support new primary care developments, according to a sustainability and transformation plan (STP) for the neighbouring areas.

Few details have been revealed about what this will mean for the likes of East Lancashire, which has already seen major changes with the closure of the accident and emergency ward at Burnley General and focus on casualty work at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

But supporters of the STP believe an extra 3,200 extra health workers will be required under its proposed new model.

Several major savings programmes are envisaged before then, with East Lancashire Hospitals and Lancashire Care NHS trusts expected to help the health economy produce £67million in organisational efficiencies during 2017-18 and £121million in 2018-19.

Another £38million is sought by cutting the medicines bill and £45million in elective services.

Around £108million is predicted through what NHS chiefs are calling a ‘prevention revolution’, focusing on early health interventions and support in the community after discharge, among other concepts.

Further significant reviews of specialised services and the urgent and emergency care system are also being worked on.

Dr Amanda Doyle, a GP and STP lead, said: “For too long in this area we have had some of the poorest health in the country.

“Our plan provides an overview of the case for change and the state of our local health and care services.”

Five local plans have been drawn up to assist the process, including one for ‘Pennine Lancashire’ and another for Central Lancashire, covering Chorley and Leyland.

The plan will now undergo a public consultation exercise.