SPECIALIST maternity services in East Lancashire are in position to be rolled out further than its current catchment area, according to a hospitals chief executive.
County councillors are concerned the ongoing health and social care sustainability and transformation (STP) process for the county and neighbouring South Cumbria could affect the Lancashire Women and Newborns Centre at Burnley General Teaching Hospital.
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Cllrs Azhar Ali and Tony Martin, cabinet members, fear the neo-natal intensive care unit, one of two in Lancashire alongside another at the Royal Preston Hospital, could be in jeopardy.
But bosses at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust have launched a robust defence of the facility, off Briercliffe Road.
Trust chief executive Kevin McGee told a board meeting that he wanted East Lancashire’s maternity services to be available “on a wider footprint” in future.
He said: “I’m really excited because I think we are in a strong position to be system leaders, in Pennine Lancashire and Lancashire and South Cumbria.”
Mr McGee accepted that the next few weeks would be 'very important' to the reform agenda, as a new five-year ‘forward view’ for the NHS was set to be published for discussion.
Stephen Barnes, a trust non-executive director and ex-Pendle Council executive, said colleagues had been left wondering what major service changes were proposed as part of the STP.
Dr Damian Riley, executive medical director, said clinicians needed to agree on the right models of care for the STP.
“It would be wrong to put the cart before the horse and put out something which has not got full clinical backing.”
The STP is looking to strip out £572million in health and social care spending before 2020.