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Doctors accuse trust of caving to political pressure to reopen ‘unsafe’ A&E

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Senior clinicians say their trust board has caved into political pressure by making an ‘unsafe’ decision to re-open a small emergency department — having previously suggested this would not happen if there was a second wave of coronavirus.

In a letter to management at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, seen by HSJ, a group of 17 emergency medicine consultants have raised serious concerns over the planned re-opening of the accident and emergency department at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital next week.

The unit, which has long suffered from staffing shortages and temporary closures, was again closed on a temporary basis at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. When covid subsided in the summer, plans were put forward to reopen it in the autumn.

However, when announcing this, chief executive Karen Partington said: “It is really important that everybody recognises that if covid-19 cases begin to rise significantly, or other safety concerns are identified, we will need to revisit the situation.”

The letter from the clinicians, addressed to trust clinical director Graham Ellis, said: “We consider that the trust has been subjected to an undercurrent of external pressure which has resulted in an unsafe decision being taken to re-open the ED prematurely…"

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Source: HSJ, 30 October 2020

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