MORE than 180 health workers have been thanked for their ‘loyalty’ to the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals.

The past year has almost certainly been the most difficult in the history of East Lancashire’s NHS services, after the hospitals were placed in special measures, but thousands of nurses, doctors and support workers have continued to give their all for patients.

Staff who have clocked up 25 years’ service were recognised by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust during two ceremonies held in Blackburn and Burnley last week, with chairman, Professor Eileen Fairhurst, and interim chief executive, Jim Birrell, presenting them with certificates for long service.

The groups included consultants, medical secretaries, clerical workers, nurses, health care assistants, catering staff and HR and organisational development staff.

Mr Birrell said: “I would like to congratulate these staff on their long service and thank every one of them for their loyalty, hard work and dedication to this trust. Staff are our most important asset and retaining experienced members of staff and all their knowledge and expertise is an important part of building and maintaining a successful organisation.”

The trust has been following a detailed improvement plan since last summer, when NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh published a damning report which made wide-ranging criticisms of the way it had been run.

The hospitals have recruited about 300 nurses and healthcare assistants and improved performance in several key areas, including the emergency department, although patients have still complained of serious problems.