Burnley paediatric consultant retires

RETIRING: Consultant paediatrician Dr Peter Ehrhardt.
RETIRING: Consultant paediatrician Dr Peter Ehrhardt.

A PAEDIATRIC consultant who has treated thousands of Burnley children and was the first medical director to be appointed to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust board has retired.

Mr Peter Ehrhardt (65) was responsible for introducing appraisals for consultants, specialised in child diabetes, newborns and more recently played a central role in the safeguarding of children during his 20 years at Burnley General Hospital.

In 1994 Mr Ehrhardt was chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee at the hospital when the then-chief executive and a medical director resigned amid a storm of controversy after attempts to sack a consultant colleague failed.

He was also the first medical director of the new East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust which was a merger of Burnley and Blackburn hospital trusts.

In that role he played an instrumental part in the planning of the new Royal Blackburn Hospital and the Phase V unit at Burnley General.

Years later, he said it was the right decision to centralise emergency services in Blackburn and move maternity care to Burnley and said patients will benefit from a better quality of care.

“I think all reorganisations are difficult. Nobody likes change. You can see that with the removal of A and E in Burnley. But truly emergency services don’t want to be provided everywhere because you can’t get the expertise and the people to deal with it.”

But he said there are some areas where hospital care in East Lancashire could be more efficient.

Mr Ehrhardt said he was fortunate to have worked in Burnley and will miss the job and his child patients.

“It’s been a privilege, it’s been a fabulous job. The down sides and the moans and the complaints are massively outweighed by the benefits.”

“It’s going to be a bereavement.”

To keep busy, Mr Ehrhardt, who lives in Todmorden with his wife Joyce, has recently joined Calderdale Mountain Rescue Team and will continue his hobby of fell running.

“It’s been great working in Burnley. I was very fortunate to get that job.”

Asked about the highlight of his career, he said: “Just children. There’s always something new. Some child comes in and does something, says something or shows you something and it’s just fantastic. Occasionally you make a difference or improve someone’s life in some way.

“In childhood, a lot of things can get better of their own accord. Children are resilient and things are likely to improve.”

Mr Ehrhardt trained at Manchester University Medical School and trained as a junior doctor in Leeds and Bradford and then in Burnley in 1981/82. He returned to Burnley as a consultant in 1991 from Dewsbury District Hospital.

He held a celebration to mark his retirement in the 1882 Lounge at Turf Moor.