Neo-natal unit not closing - health bosses

Burnley General Hospital's NICU unit
Burnley General Hospital's NICU unit

Health bosses have moved to reassure the public after fears were expressed that Burnley General Hospital’s Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit could be at risk of closing.

The £32m. flagship centre, which only opened in 2010, was said to be at risk by county councillors angry at proposed government cuts to NHS budgets in Lancashire.

The government has introduced 44 Sustainability and Transformation plans for England.

Lancashire and South Cumbria’s STP means that by 2020 the local health services have to find more than £532m. of cuts to services.

County Coun. Tony Martin, the Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “The baby care unit is a key part of Burnley’s maternity service. Its loss would be a severe blow and would put the whole maternity service locally in jeopardy.”

His colleague, Lancashire’s Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, County Coun. Azhar Ali, said: “We have a flaghip New Born centre that provides a brilliant service across East Lancashire and these cuts put the NICU unit, only one of two in Lancashire, at serious risk of closure. We will fight to save our baby care unit.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Other services are also at risk and that’s why we demand the the NHS publish details of their proposed cuts to local services immediately.”

But East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust poured cold water on the claims.

Vanessa Wilson, divisional general manager for Family Care at the Trust, said: “The Trust has no plans to close the NICU at Burnley General Teaching Hospital which is a Level 3 provider of neonatal care across Lancashire and South Cumbria.”

Her views were echoed by the chief officer for Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria Dr Amanda Doyle who said there would not be any cuts to health services locally.

She said: “We have been clear to local councillors and others that we are not making any cuts to spending on health services, on the contrary the health service here will receive an extra £345m. over the next four years.

“The problem we have is that demand for services is rising much faster than our resources. We need to involve the public, health and care staff in developing detailed plans on how we improve the health of our population and reduce the pressures being experienced currently by health care providers.”