Council: Public not consulted over moving patients' ops
Last updated at 10:39, Thursday, 19 September 2013
IT is “ludicrous” that services are being downgraded at the West Cumberland Hospital given its proximity to a major nuclear site, senior councillors have warned.
It was revealed last week that, from October 1, all high-risk patients in West Cumbria will be transferred to Carlisle for surgery, and there will be no complex operations carried out at the West Cumberland Hospital out of hours, at evenings and weekends.
This decision has been roundly criticised by Copeland councillors, with further concern raised in light of the hospital’s proximity to Sellafield.
David Moore, Conservative group leader and chair of West Cumbria Stakeholders (nuclear sites) Group, said: “Is the A&E department fit to deal with any major incident at Sellafield? How can the A&E department be supported when there are not the clinical skills on site?
“These is an extremely worrying development.”
Council leader Elaine Woodburn added: “It is ludicrous that we don’t have acceptable services at the WCH with a nuclear site on our doorstep.”
The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the WCH, maintained this week however that the A&E department is “safe”.
Concern has also been raised within the council that the newly-announced plans are in conflict with what was agreed in 2008’s Closer To Home agreement which promised safe, 24-hour surgical care at Whitehaven and Carlisle (at night from Cumberland Infirmary) and emergency general surgery through to 9pm at weekdays and 6pm at weekends.
Members have joined MP Jamie Reed in calling for a public consultation.
Coun Woodburn said: “Surgery and operations moving are not what was agreed to after a public consultation. Services seem to be diminishing very quickly. What about maternity services? That’s another thing we fought long and hard to keep here.”
Coun Moore added: “Everything seems to be drifting to Carlisle and I have no confidence that it will come back. The new buildings are going up, but what will be in them?”
“It’s disappointing that we, as a council, have not been consulted over any of this,” said Coun Woodburn. “We have members sitting on scrutiny groups, yet this was a behind-closed-doors decision. We will write to the Trust to ask for a formal consultation and fight to retain what everyone agreed to.”
A joint statement from North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Changes to high-risk surgery at North Cumbria are being made in the very best interests of patients and to address urgent safety issues to ensure that each and every person who needs to undergo a complex operation, no matter what time of the day or night, has access to the best possible care and the best possible clinical outcomes.”
Coun Woodburn also expressed disappointment that the takeover of the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust by the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been delayed.
She said: “This would have brought some stability to the West Cumberland Hospital.”
Bosses at the Trust which runs the West Cumberland Hospital this week sought to offer assurances over its immediate future.
The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust also said that complex operations would be carried out at the West Cumberland Hospital at evenings and weekends.
During a meeting with The Whitehaven News on Tuesday, Ann Farrar, acting chief executive of the Trust, and Dr Jeremy Rushmer, the Trust’s interim medical director, said the hospital’s A&E department was “safe” and the hospital’s new build was progressing. The Trust was responding to questions that the new changes to surgery breached the 2008 Closer to Home agreement, which followed extensive public consultation.
However, Mrs Farrar said the moves would see affect about two or three patients a week, which was, she said, in line with Closer to Home.
Beds at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle were at times, “tight’’, she said, but a number of improvements were planned to support this move.
When asked about the sudden announcement of the changes, Mrs Farrar said the decision was made on safety grounds, but the Trust would, at some point in the future, consult with the public and were “committed’’ to talking to staff.
In response to the worries raised about the condition of the A595 to transport critical patients from Whitehaven to Carlisle, Dr Rushmer said he had confidence in the route “ensuring there are no delays and we have the support of the ambulance service”.
He said the Trust had consulted with the ambulance service and the transportation of critical patients had “moved on enormously” over the years.
Commenting on the plan for the new-build hospital, Dr Rushmer also said the six new theatres would be “used more” and there would be “more elective inpatients”.
Copeland MP Jamie Reed had said he was concerned at the attempt to hide behind the Keogh Report on failings at the Trust’s hospitals as a reason for transferring surgery to Carlisle.
Mr Reed said he had spoken with Sir Bruce Keogh who told him there was “nothing wrong that couldn’t be fixed” in either Carlisle or Whitehaven.
At the meeting, Dr Rushmeer said the work the Trust was doing was “a reasonable... an appropriate fix’’.
First published at 10:21, Thursday, 19 September 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
It is the understanding once more of health blurb that people have not understood. There will be emergency surgery just not MAJOR surgery.the continual movement of services from West Cumbria, some very quietly ,has been highlighted in this newspaper for years The editor has been very strong in support to try to make people understand. Tying it all together the new hospital is built for these changes. Hopefully it may not be too late as the people who can make changes seem to have finally opened their eyes. Sellafield cannot always be the saviour of all while we defend one another more important building gets lost. What is known as being blinkered
Peter,Stop being ridiculous its down to finances and we all know it.
Odd also how the previous and current government can find Â£4.7 billion (yes Billion) of taxpayers money for Crossrail, a fancy new rail line for London and yet vital health services up here are absolutely on their knees to save money.Still its only that strange outpost of West Cumbria with that ghastly nuclear place and a strange little town where they pull ugly faces, and thats a long way from London so it does'nt really matter...does it ?
View all 7 comments on this article