More cash plea as hospital bosses face final countdown
Last updated at 12:02, Thursday, 20 September 2012
TALKS are under way about finding more money for the West Cumberland Hospital redevelopment, new bosses have revealed.
The contract deal for the delay-hit £90million development has to take place before November 23.
Until then a team from Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust – which is in the process of taking over the hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary – are looking at plans to make sure they are right.
New bosses allowed The Whitehaven News fewer than 10 minutes to interview its chiefs – unfortunately leaving many questions unanswered.
Chief executive of the Northumbria Trust Jim Mackey and Ann Farrar, its chief operating officer and now in charge of the two hospitals, reassured people that the Whitehaven redevelopment will still happen on the existing site.
“We have been taking the opportunity of getting our clinical teams together to make sure they are comfortable with the design,” said Mr Mackey.
He said there were some tweaks which were getting sorted out to make sure it was fit for the long-term and that there were negotiations about getting additional funding.
“We are trying to identify additional sources of finance,” said Mr Mackey. This would help improve remaining buildings and upgrade equipment.
He said the design of the hospital, being built around some of the current buildings, would not have been their ideal choice.
But he said: “We need to make sure it feels brand new and make sure it is refurbished to a really good standard.”
The Whitehaven News asked whether more services at the Whitehaven hospital would be downgraded once the North East Trust takes over.
Mrs Farrer said: “No-one is going to downgrade services. We will make sure we deliver services of the highest standard to go forward. No NHS services stand still, there are very innovative ways to provide care in a local setting.”
The health chiefs confirmed that the takeover of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust was “as is”, which means the services currently at the hospital would remain.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean they would be the same indefinitely and The Whitehaven News asked what would be the future of, for example, local maternity services?
Mr Mackey said: “If there are changes ahead there would be public discussion. Up and down the country people are struggling to provide some services like maternity.”
He said they would need to understand what may happen at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay and that any changes there could potentially mean a change in the shift of volumes of patients. A health watchdog report last year identified major failings in the Morecambe Bay Trust’s maternity services and it is now making changes to comply with regulations and being monitored.
“As of now there is no plan agreed to change anything,” added Mr Mackey.
Mrs Farrar said recent safety concerns at the two North Cumbria hospitals would be tackled with more openness and she wanted to see more concerns flagged up by staff, not less. And Mr Mackey added: “I’d be more worried about a place that wasn’t reporting incidents, or if they were being repeated. It’s about dealing with it today and not have it happening again.”
Regarding finances – which is the reason the two hospitals are being taken over – Mr Mackey stressed that he ideally wants to see the Carlisle hospital – built using controversial PFI funding – brought into NHS ownership. In the meantime he said they will aim and get a better deal, but stressed that extra Government cash already secured means the mortgage can no longer be an excuse for financial crisis.
Instead Mrs Farrar will be looking at other ways the trust can meet this year’s £16.9m savings target. She believes the answer lies with clinical staff – and focusing on quality first. By improving services and putting frontline staff in the driving seat, she is confident money will stop being wasted.
It is hoped redundancies will be avoided when the two trusts merge, but senior management and back office staffing issues will be looked at.
First published at 11:05, Thursday, 20 September 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
In ten to twenty years time when the redeveloped WCH has struggled to meet demands due to axed services, then, and only then, will services gradually be brought back to the hospital. You read it here first.
So the media got less than 10 minutes with the new bosses. So what? I'd rather Ms Farrar got on with starting to sort out all the problems there are at Carlisle and Whitehaven Hospitlas than waste time talking to the press. It's time for action, not talking.
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