Plans made for Southport A&E to reduce hours or stop treating major conditions

The proposals were made as part of plans to make £909m of savings in Cheshire and Merseyside.

Plans were drawn up for Southport A&E to no longer open 24 hours a day or to stop treating the most serious conditions.

The proposals were made as part of plans for NHS management in Cheshire and Merseyside to make £909m of cuts by 2020. Southport MP John Pugh has described the idea as “outrageously stupid”.

Huge controversy was caused when the children’s A&E in Southport was closed in 2003, meaning under 18s have to travel to Ormskirk for emergency care. Changes to the remaining A&E department would be certain to cause further backlash and disruption to patients.

Three other A&E departments, in Macclesfield, Warrington and and Knowsley were also named as candidates to be downgraded in a draft version of a sustainability and transformation plan (STP).

The document was written on October 21 and leaked to the BBC. NHS bosses say proposals to downgrade A&Es have been removed from the latest draft, though they have not said how else they plan to make the savings.

MP John was scathing of the plans, saying they can only make things ‘substantially worse at a time when services are already under massive pressure.

He said: “This suggestion comes from a cabal of NHS bosses whose hand has been forced by the government. It is desperate attempt to save money which has nothing to do with access, need or clinical safety. No-one who the public actually elects , patients or public has had any part in the evolution of these proposals. It can only substantially worsen services.”

Dr Pugh added that saving money ‘by making it difficult for people to actually access services is madness’ and that the solution was instead for the government to recognise the need for the NHS to be better funded.

Louise Shepherd, who is leading work on the Cheshire and Merseyside STP, told BBC News that the plan “does signal intentions in some areas to conduct reviews of current urgent and emergency care services, to assess whether there may be clinical or sustainability issues which should be addressed”.

She added: “This may lead over time to options being proposed to change the way some services may be delivered in the future”.

All local health care providers in England are currently drawing up STPs to make savings over the next five years. A final version of Cheshire and Merseyside’s STP is expected to be released in the next few weeks.