(Updated 19/1/13): Green Party councillor Jon Barry has learned from a hospital source that plans are well advanced to drastically reduce the services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary after a review in services.
It is understood that many of the current services will be transferred to Kendal.
Plans under consideration, which will be put out to public consultation, are believed to include:
- A&E: This will be a GP-run minor injuries clinic. Serious cases will be expected to go to Kendal or Preston.
- There will be no intensive care at Lancaster.
- There will be a midwife-led maternity unit. However, if problems arise during births, mothers will be transported to Kendal or Preston.
- There will be 'cold' surgery only - hips and knees.
Plans are at an advanced stage and it is intended to make the changes within three years, the result of budget cuts imposed by the government.
The NHS Blood and Transplant is also discussing proposals to close the blood stock-holding unit based at the RLI and to consolidate it into an existing site in Manchester.
Coun Jon Barry said: "If these plans are true, local residents will effectively be left with a glorified clinic. It seems clear to me that local people will die or suffer more serious injuries because there won't be suitable facilities nearby to treat them."
“I am very clear that RLI must offer a full range of medical facilities including A&E, intensive care and maternity services and urge everyone to defend our hospital.”
"It is fundamental to a decent health service that there is a proper local hospital. The coalition government said that the NHS was safe from cuts. This clearly isn't the case."
"There won't simply be a deterioration in health care. In addition, it will be more difficult for people to visit patients and there will be a net loss of jobs from our district."
A spokesman for the University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust, which runs the RLI, Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal and Furness General Hospital in Barrow, told the Lancaster Guardian that a service review had been launched, but would not confirm or deny if certain services could be axed.
• Update: A Facebook page has been set up to gather support for the RLI: https://www.facebook.com/LancasterSaveOurHospitals