THE future of Pendle Community Hospital remains up in the air after a mixed message from health bosses.
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and NHS East Lancashire Commissioners are working to redesign the rehabilitation services available to East Lancashire residents – a move that could mean the closure of the Nelson hospital, which has prompted an angry campaign from residents and users.
The two bodies said in a statement they “recognise the value of Pendle Community Hospital as an NHS healthcare facility for East Lancashire”.
But the statement also added the filip that “if the local health needs of the community could not be served by utilising Pendle Community Hospital then a public consultation would be undertaken.”
The announcement comes as East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) led by local GPs, looks at the redesign of rehabilitation services.
Inpatient rehabilitation services are currently provided at Pendle Community Hospital and at the Rakehead Unit at Burnley General Hospital, which specialises in neurological rehabilitation.
A campaign was launched recently by residents and patients to save Pendle Community Hospital with 5,000 people having pledged their support.
Health campaigners have been inundated with signatures for their petition to save the hospital, which provides in-patient rehabilitation care for mainly elderly stroke sufferers.
Bosses at NHS East Lancashire said they would listen to concerns if the campaign collected 5,000 signatures.
Mr Azhar Ali, former chairman of Burnley NHS Trust, said recently: “Five thousand is just the start in trying to keep our hospital open and securing local services for the people of Burnley and Pendle.
“If Blackburn PCT can seek local services for their population, then the same rules should apply to services at Burnley General and Pendle Community Hospitals.
“People are sick of cuts to local services and that’s why people of all ages and backgrounds have signed our petition.”
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said he was a strong supporter of health services being delivered at local level.
A spokesman for the Trust said: “There is still a significant amount of work to do in redesigning the complex arrangements that comprise rehabilitation services.
“However, all parties are committed to undertake this work carefully and with due regard to improving the health of patients.
“It is anticipated that this will lead to a more consistent and integrated service in the future for East Lancashire residents.
“We will jointly develop a vision to ensure that Pendle Community Hospital continues to serve the needs of the local population.”