ANYONE who breaks a bone in Burnley in future faces a painful journey to Blackburn – after news leaked that Burnley General Hospital looks set to lose its fracture clinic.
The move could happen as soon as September and will mean health bosses reneging on a vow to keep fracture clinics in both Burnley and Blackburn.
Under the Meeting Patients Needs plan, which involved a major shake-up of hospital services in East Lancashire, Burnley is already going to lose its "blue light" accident and emergency services and in-patient children's facilities.
But now the Express has learned that the fracture clinic could be yet another service taken away from the town, with all breaks being treated at Blackburn.
Under Service Model A, adopted as the future of hospital services across East Lancashire, it was envisaged that fracture out-patients would still be treated at Burnley General Hospital.
However, health chiefs have now refused to confirm or deny whether the Burnley fracture clinic would close.
A spokesman for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "No final decision has been made yet and we are reviewing all options to make sure we are able to continue to deliver the best possible health care for the whole of East Lancashire."
The spokesman added that a final decision would be made later this month and X-ray facilities would be kept at both sites.
But hospitals campaigner Coun. Gordon Birtwistle, leader of Burnley Council, said the potential loss was another kick in the teeth for local patients.
He said: "Seeing that the Trust has not denied the fracture clinic will close, I am convinced it will. Option A was forced upon us, but now they have gone against promises in this.
"It is deplorable to expect people with broken bones, which is extremely painful, to travel to Blackburn. What if that person cannot get transport, will they have to use a bus?
"The whole health service in Burnley is now out of control. Unelected people are now systematically destroying our health service."
The Express has previously reported that Burnley's accident and emergency department will be downgraded to an urgent care centre for minor injuries and illnesses with all emergency cases going to the Royal Blackburn Hospital from November 1st.
Health chiefs have stressed though that 87% of cases will still be treated at Burnley General Hospital's urgent care centre.