THE OPENING of a major £15.6m development has been hailed as the 'start of a new beginning' for a hospital.

More than ten years ago in 2007, Burnley General Hospital A&E was closed with many campaigners worried the impact the closure would have on the emergency department at nearby Royal Blackburn Hospital.

But these very same campaigners are now hailing the official opening of of the new 'Phase eight' development at the hospital yesterday.

The new building boast a state-of-the-art ophthalmology centre, outpatients departments and maxillo facial facilities.

It follows on from another major development at the hospital which saw the opening of a state-of-the art elective care treatment centre in 2016 and £750,000 chemotherapy and breast care facilities in 2017.

Former Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, who led the campaign against the closure of the A&E, said this latest investment showed the amazing transformation which has taken place at the hospital.

He was speaking after he, along with other MPs and trust officials, were given a tour of the outdated old buildings and the contrasting new one.

Cllr Birtwistle, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Burnley Council, said: "This is an amazing, high-tech modern hospital facility, probably one of the best in the whole of England with the best equipment and brilliant staff.

"It will take pressure off existing services in Burnley and Blackburn and it's an amazing transformation from more than ten years ago when the A&E closed."

Pendle's MP Andrew Stephenson also said the hospital had undergone a huge change in its fortunes.

He said: "The closure of the A&E did have a big impact on 2005 and I think when in 2007 the A&E closed, a lot of people thought that was the beginning of the end for Burnley General Hospital and I think what we're seeing today and what we've seen over recent years, is the start of a new beginning."

Trust chief executive Kevin McGee added: "It's state-of-the-art facilities which will be here for the next 60 to 70 years.

"It will take pressure of outpatients at Blackburn hospital and certainly take pressures off operating theatres at Blackburn."