PENDLE MP Andrew Stephenson has been challenged to hold a face-to-face meeting with campaigners fighting for the future of Pendle Community Hospital.
The gauntlet was thrown down by former chairman of Burnley Health Care Trust Azhar Ali, Pendle councillor Eileen Ansar and County Coun. George Adam after they held a meeting with NHS East Lancashire’s assistant director for commissioning Tim Mansfield on Wednesday to discuss the future of the hospital.
This followed a statement issued by the MP following his own meeting with Mr Mansfield and Victoria Robertson, director of corporate and public affairs on Friday over possible closure of the 72 rehabilitation beds at the hospital in Leeds Road, Nelson.
The status of the hospital is currently under review and campaigners have collected more than 5,000 names in support of their fight to retain the hospital’s present status.
Following the meeting, Mr Stephenson said: “I was given firm assurances there were no plans to close Pendle Community Hospital.
“Furthermore NHS bosses agreed with me the site is relatively modern and ideally located to provide services to Nelson and the surrounding area.
“I was reassured that even if the provision of 72 beds for rehabilitation care at Pendle Community Hospital was to be reviewed, there were a range of other health services that could be provided from the site.”
But campaigners said they had not received any assurances about the hospital remaining open from Mr Mansfield.
They said: “We were told the review is still ongoing, and so the campaign goes on as well.
“We already know 14 beds paid for by NHS Blackburn with Darwen are being taken away, so that reduces the number of beds to 58 straight away.
“Many of the beds are used by elderly people who have had strokes or falls and need 24/7 care which they cannot receive in their own home.
“If the beds are taken away, the hospital will no longer be viable. It will become little more than a clinic and will close.
“Andrew Stephenson is totally out of touch on this issue. He has not signed our petition and the future of the hospital remains in jeopardy and unclear. We challenge him to meet us and join the fight to keep Pendle Community Hospital open,” they said.
Campaigners plan to meet local GP commissioners who will ultimately decide the hospital’s future for talks.
A public meeting could then be held early in the New Year.