STAFF at a hospital’s accident and emergency department have said they intend to withdraw from a ‘goodwill situation’ that sees them work longer hours than expected.

Chorley and South Ribble Hospital’s A&E re-opened last year on a part-time basis, with the department accepting patients between 8am and 8pm.

Nursing staff are rostered on to work until 10pm, but they have said in a letter to hospital bosses that they are ‘frequently’ not able to leave at this time as there are still patients within the department.

They have complained of regularly being ‘very late off’, which ‘posed problems with their homes lives and meant that upon starting their shift, they never know what time it will end.’

The letter also states that a request by unions that Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has a contingency of staff based within MAU/Medicine who could relieve nurses in the emergency department, thus allowing them to leave at 10pm, has also not been implemented.

Action, which will see staff leave the department at 10pm when their rostered late/long-day shift expires, will commence from May 7 this year, to give trust bosses a chance to arrange a ‘viable contingency plan’.

The letter reads: “As a group off staff, we are hereby giving you advanced notice of our intention to leave the department at 10pm when our rostered late/long-day shift expires.

“We understand that there are many underlying issues affecting an on-time closure, however our main issue is the late finishes that we are regularly exposed to.

“With union support we will commence this action week commencing Monday, May 7 2018, thus giving you time to arrange a viable contingency plan.”

The situation has sparked renewed calls to increase opening times at the A&E, with a view to it going full-time and also to recruit more staff.

Jenny Hurley, a member of campaign group Protect Chorley Hospital From Cuts and Privatisation, said some staff were working up to 17 hours and described the situation as ‘unacceptable’.

She said: “Patients already triaged still need attending and with treatment or admission, depending what’s required, delayed due to lack of beds and staff, our staff often end up on 17 hour shifts.

“We all know this is not sustainable.

“Our A&E is often understaffed already, so being expected to work another five hours over an already exhausting 12 hour shift covering shortages, is not acceptable.

It’s not safe for the patients. It’s not safe for the staff.”

Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “I’d call on the trust to add extra hours to its opening or go full-time to ensure staff are getting the right allocated hours/support .

“This will mean extra shifts can be brought in and proper staff handovers.”

A Unite source at the hospital said: “Without sufficient staff to open Chorley emergency department for 24 hours it is necessary to ensure that patient’s left in emergency department after 10pm closure have nurses caring for them who aren’t exhausted at the wrong end of a 17 hour shift.”

Karen Partington, Chief Executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said, “Last week some Chorley emergency department staff informed the senior team that at times they have been unable to leave work at the end of their shift, because some patients were still present and required care.

“We agree that this isn’t acceptable, and apologise for the disruption this has caused them and their families. We have recently met with staff and the union to hear their views, and have agreed a number of actions to make sure they are able to leave work on time.

“We regret that on occasion some patients have remained in the emergency department for longer than they should. This is a direct consequence of our wards being exceptionally busy which causes delays admitting patients from the emergency department – extending the opening hours at Chorley would not resolve this problem.

“Our emergency department staff at both Chorley and Preston, together with the wider health and care workforce are working hard to provide effective treatment during this very busy period, and we thank them all for their continued dedication and compassion.”