UP to 40% more ambulances are to return to Burnley General Hospital more than three years after emergency services were moved to Blackburn.
All “blue light” emergency cases will continue to be transported to the Royal Blackburn Hospital but now more less serious ambulance cases will be taken to Burnley’s urgent care centre.
Extra training is also planned for paramedics to help them, along with hospital staff, determine whether a case is a genuine emergency.
The news has been welcomed by health campaigners, including the town’s MP, Mr Gordon Birtwistle.
He said: “This is great news and a big improvement. I have been lobbying hard in Westminster and am delighted that ambulances will be returning to Burnley. There have been cases of people being taken to Blackburn for injuries that could easily be treated at Burnley.
“This is not the end of the matter though and there are still lots more that can be done to increase the level of services offered at Burnley. Part of the problem is that the name ‘urgent care centre’ is so ambiguous that nobody has any idea whether they can be treated there or not.
Coun. Darren Reynolds, who has also been heavily involved in the Lib-Dems’ hospital campaign, added: “Whatever the national situation, locally, Burnley is winning.
“This is the second major step in the restoration of Burnley General Hospital after some blue light ambulances were returned a year ago.
“We will eventually win all our services back, but I think it will take another two to three years before changes in how the NHS is run will make that possible.”
A joint statement from Cath Galaska, chief operating officer at North-West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Chris Endersby, director of commissioning at NHS East Lancashire and Val Bertenshaw, director of operations at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Taking patients with minor injuries and illnesses to Burnley’s urgent care centre rather than the emergency department at Royal Blackburn Hospital has always been part of the service agreements between NHS East Lancashire, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and North-West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
“East Lancashire Hospitals and North-West Ambulance Service have agreed standards for clinical safety to ensure the right care is delivered in the right place at the right time.”