The health trust that runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) has said that a “large scale public consultation” would take place before any changes are made to health services in the Morecambe Bay area.
Last week, the Lancaster Guardian reported that a major review of hospital services in the area could result in a number of options including the closure of the A&E and intensive care units at the RLI.
But Jackie Daniel, chief executive of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) refuted plans were “well advanced” and said the trust was only at the very beginning of a process. She said: “The Trust is working together with local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to review services to ensure that they are safe, offer good standards of care, and are sustainable well into the future.
“There will be many conversations between GPs, hospital clinicians, the public, staff and other experts, and it is natural that people will state their views on what future services may look like. However, no plans have been developed to reduce, drastically or otherwise, services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, or any other hospital as part of this review.
“As this work begins, all three organisations want to ensure that we hear what the public, patients, healthcare professionals and wider stakeholders think of health services currently and how they might be organised in the future. Surveys and events are currently being arranged for the coming months and dates and information on how people can share their views and participate in the process will be advertised soon.
“This feedback from the public and stakeholders will be given to local doctors and other health professionals as they will begin to look at different health areas before a set of possible options can be developed later this year.
“It is expected that a large scale formal consultation process looking at the options subsequently developed will then take place in summer/ autumn 2013.
“The public and stakeholders will be asked to consider which possible options for changing the way health services work across Morecambe Bay they prefer.
“GPs, as part of CCGs, will play a major part in these discussions as from April 2013, they will be responsible for deciding how and where local health services should be delivered.”