East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

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East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Region served East Lancashire, England
Type NHS Trust (Acute)
  • 971
  • 632 (Royal Blackburn Hospital)
  • 291 (Burnley General Hospital and Pendle Community Hospital)
  • 48 (Accrington Victoria Hospital and Clitheroe Community Hospital
Chief Exec Mark Brearley
Website www.elht.nhs.uk

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is an NHS hospital trust in Lancashire, England. It was formed in 2003 as the result of a locally controversial, cost saving merger of Blackburn Hyndburn and Ribble Valley (BHRV) NHS Trust and Burnley Health Care NHS Trust, first announced in 1999.[1] The trust covers the local government districts of Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle, Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Ribble Valley. A total area of 474 square miles (1,228 km2), with a population of 530,200 (2011 est.)


The Trust's two major bases are the Royal Blackburn Hospital, and the Burnley General Hospital. The Trust's headquarters and the majority of management is based at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, the larger of the two.

The Trust manages three hospitals:

A fourth hospital, Blackburn Royal Infirmary shut in 2006 as part of a merger of Blackburn's two sites, planned before the trust was formed. A fifth, Rossendale General, was shut down over a 4-year period, finally closing in September 2010.[2]

The Trust also provides services for, and deals with: The Accrington Victoria Hospital, Clitheroe Community Hospital and the Longridge Community Hospital.


The Trust operates the following departments:[3]

Emergency services[edit]

The Trust closed the Accident and Emergency department at Burnley General Hospital in November 2007, replacing the department with an Urgent Care Centre, to treat less serious emergencies, whilst more critical cases would have to travel (by ambulance) to the Accident and Emergency department at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.[4] The Royal Blackburn Hospital also has an Urgent Care Centre in a separate building outside its own A&E department. This has enabled the Accident and Emergency department at Royal Blackburn to concentrate on the more serious cases from across the Trust, for which it is better equipped, with emergency theatres and an Intensive Care Unit. Following this move, a helipad was constructed several metres from the entrance to the Accident and Emergency Department at Blackburn, so some critically ill/injured patients could be airlifted to the department by the North West Air Ambulance.

As is common in these situations, the decision was deeply unpopular with the public of the Burnley and Pendle districts, who were most affected by the change.[5] A campaign to save/return the A&E service was a central issue in local politics. Both the district’s current MPs where elected in 2010 on a platform of support for the campaign.[6] At the end of 2011, Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle claimed a partial victory, with news of a new £12m emergency unit.[7] However the trust has since stated the project is only about relocating the existing service and that there will be no return of accident and emergency to Burnley.[8]

Hospital refurbishment[edit]

The trust inherited two PFI construction projects from its predecessors, both planned in the 90s. The Blackburn Royal Infirmary (BRI), was decommissioned in the summer of 2006, after a new hospital building was built at the existing Queens Park Hospital (QPH) site in the town, so to merge the two sites into a single hospital for Blackburn.[9] This meant the moving of many departments, and much publicity was made about the moving of the Accident and Emergency department, so to avoid public confusion of the exact time when the A&E at BRI shut, and the A&E at the newly merged Royal Blackburn Hospital site opened. Also at Burnley a smaller scheme known as Phase 5 was underway, intended to provide improved care of the elderly, and dermatology facilities.[10]

Also, much consolidation has come into effect since the merging of the two original trusts. This has involved the closure of many wards and departments at the Burnley General Hospital, with much speculation of the site's belittlement. Despite this, a new building was completed at the Hospital in late 2007 (known as Phase 5). The Trust continues to make major investments on the Burnley site, with £32m development of the Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre and £0.3m fitting ventilation systems in two operating theatres, to undertake additional orthopaedic surgery.[11]

Shuttle buses[edit]

Since the consolidation of many departments, patients have recently been required to attend clinics at a different site from their local hospital. Also, staff frequently move between the Blackburn and Burnley hospitals to go about their work. Because of this, a free shuttle bus has been introduced between sites, [12] using the M65 to quickly shuttle between both hospitals. The service runs from 6.15am until 9.30pm.

Foundation Trust application[edit]

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust has been attempting to become an NHS Foundation Trust since 2007. Becoming an FT was an important development for the Trust and to survive into the future, the organisation was required to complete a successful application before April 2013, but like many NHS Trusts it failed to meet this deadline.

The chief executive, Mark Brearley, announced he was resigning with immediate effect in December 2013.[13]

Quality of care[edit]

In October 2013 as a result of the Keogh Review the Trust was put into the highest risk category by the Care Quality Commission.[14] It was put into special measures and there were calls for resignations. Concerns centred on the Trust's policy of opening extra beds, or leaving patients on chairs and trolleys, to deal with surges in demand.[15] It was put into a buddying arrnagement with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.[16]

In December 2013 it became clear that stroke services at the Royal Blackburn Hospital were under threat. The service which has dealt with 759 patients in the last 12 months has missed a key performance target every month this year for 90% of stroke patients to be admitted to a specialist ward within four hours of arrival. This was achieved in just 47 per cent of cases between April and September this year.[17]

Of all the providers of specialised services in England the Trust was least compliant with the quality standards set for them by leading clinicians in October 2014.[18]

Clinical education[edit]

The trust recently began accepting small numbers of medical students for components of their clinical training. All students allocated to Royal Blackburn Hospital are based either at Royal Preston Hospital or Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester.

The Postgraduate Medical & Dental Education website has further information on Foundation and Specialty Training in East Lancashire.


The Trust recruited more than 40 nurses from mainland Europe in 2014/5 but more than a quarter quickly left because they mistakenly thought the North West would be “like London”. The trust provided extra training to help them understand the Lancashire dialect but Christine Pearson, chief nurse, reported "even if you live 25 miles down the road in Manchester such as me, you'll always have language barriers."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This is Lancashire Archive Accessed 2010
  2. ^ Lancashire Telegraph Accessed 2010
  3. ^ East Lancashire Hospitals: Departments
  4. ^ Putting Healthcare First in East Lancashire
  5. ^ "Anger at shock decision on A&E". Lancashire Telegraph. 22 December 2006. Retrieved July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Andrew Stephenson Member of Parliament for Pendle". Conservative Party. Retrieved July 2012. 
  7. ^ "New £12million emergency unit planned for Burnley General Hospital". Lancashire Telegraph. 22 December 2011. Retrieved July 2012. 
  8. ^ "MP ‘misled’ public over future of Burnley General Hospital". Burnley Express. 24 February 2012. Retrieved July 2012. 
  9. ^ "Infirmary may close in 10 years". Lancashire Telegraph. 4 September 1996. Retrieved July 2012. 
  10. ^ "Trust unveils hospital schemes costing £15m". Lancashire Telegraph. 29 August 1996. Retrieved July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Burnley General Hospital £300k operating theatres boost". Lancashire Telegraph. 18 November 2011. Retrieved July 2012. 
  12. ^ East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust: Shuttle Bus
  13. ^ "Keogh review trust's chief resigns". Health Service Journal. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "NHS Trusts put in risk categories - full list". Independent. 24 October 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "East Lancs hospital boss: I won't quit". Lancashire Telegraph. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "‘Buddy’ trusts could double their money under bonus scheme". Health Service Journal. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Battle to keep stroke unit in Blackburn". Lancashire Telegraph. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Specialised services failing to make the grade". Health Service Journal. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Foreign nurses leave North West because 'it's not like London'". Daily Telegraph. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 12 March 2015. 

External links[edit]