ALL planned surgery for Warrington patients will now be carried out in Runcorn unless they have underlying health problems which may need intensive care, said a Halton and Warrington hospital health chief.

Around 226 operations already take place at Halton Hospital every week, and this is expected to reach 12,000 by the end of the year.

Mel Pickup, chief executive of of Warrington and Halton NHS Foundation Trust, said:”Every elective operation should be done at Halton irrespective of where patients live, unless they have other illnesses or problems which may require intensive care back up.

“We are going to take more general surgery, urology, and gynaecology. Orthopaedic surgery is already carried out at the treatment centre.”

She said there will be far less likelihood of operations being cancelled by emergencies which will be handled in Warrington.

Helen Jones, Warrington North MP, said: “I am concerned that there is less and less choice for the people of Warrington.

“They are being asked to travel further for their operations and their families will find it more difficult to visit them.

“Once again an announcement from our hospital comes out of the blue with no discussions or prior warning. This is not good enough.“

New diagnostic services will be available in the autumn to treat elderly patients with heart and respiratory conditions.

Mel Pickup Warrington Hospital chief executive said: "Moving towards this model with most routine surgery at Halton for local patients and complex, specialist and emergency surgery and care at Warrington has been something we have been working towards over the last five years.

"The majority of our routine surgical work already takes place at Halton General and it means less chance of a routine operation being cancelled at the last minute because of pressure of accommodating emergency patients coming in through A&E.

"Patients can still have all their initial outpatient appointments at Warrington and then we will book their surgery with our expert surgical team at the best hospital site for their own particular needs. The move has allowed us to make the most effective use the most of both of our hospital sites for local patients."