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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Hospital patients to be moved to Carlisle

TWO ‘high risk’ patients A DAY will have to travel from West Cumberland Hospital to Carlisle from March next year, it has been revealed.

There is concern in the community about this potential number of sick people who would be required to transfer the 40 miles between hospitals by ambulance.

The estimated number revealed by hospital bosses is a big increase on the original put forward during the 2008 Closer to Home public consultation of around two a week.

It is part of the plan to centralise more complex care at the Cumberland Infirmary with more planned operations taking place in Whitehaven.

Hospital bosses say it is estimated that around one surgical patient and one medical patient would be required to travel to Carlisle every day. “High risk” patients are described as those who are the most ill, requiring complex surgery or care and would therefore require longer in hospital.

Surgeon Mike Walker, medical director of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, said it was safe and would not be considered if it wasn’t. If a patient is too ill to travel, a specialist would have to go to the patient in Whitehaven.

More planned routine surgery such as cataract operations, hip and knee replacements will be done in Whitehaven with patients from across the county expected to come here for treatment. There will still be elective surgery at Carlisle.

“It’s about working as one team in one hospital setting, across two sites, so that means we have got to rearrange how we manage the provision of service to run it more effectively,” said Mr Walker. “There will be fewer complex patients on the Whitehaven site and more complex patients at the Cumberland Infirmary. It has to work both ways, there will be more elective patients (having routine operations) in Whitehaven, we need to get consultants operating on both sites.” He said there would still be acute 24/7 emergency care in Whitehaven.

But hospital campaigner, the Rev John Bannister, said this week: “I am concerned at the number of patients who are likely to need to transfer to Carlisle for specialist care. Two potentially critically-ill people a day having to travel is very significant. At the time of the Closer to Home agreement we were told that this number would be much lower.”

And Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “A seven-fold increase in the planned patient movements between Whitehaven and Carlisle has to be explained in full to the public. These kind of unexpected announcements continue to erode trust. The community expects to be told the full details behind these proposals and what this means for other services at the West Cumberland Hospital. The Trust needs to come clean now.”

Work is ongoing to make sure there are enough beds at the Carlisle hospital to ensure these high-risk patients can be transferred. To do this, say health chiefs, work is being done to ensure the service there is efficient and to make sure beds are not inappropriately taken up by patients who would be better cared for at home or in a community hospital.

It is estimated that between five to seven beds at the hospital would therefore be needed for surgical patients and a similar number for medical patients, having transferred from Whitehaven.

“These high-risk medical and surgical patients would only transfer to Cumberland Infirmary for their immediate acute care and would be transferred to care closer to home,” says the Trust, which runs the hospitals.

When asked by The Whitehaven News where all the ambulances would come from to transport patients, Mr Walker said discussions were ongoing with the ambulance service.

The re-developed West Cumberland Hospital is to be supported by up to 40 community hospital beds (20 in the hospital itself and others across West Cumbria).

“All partners are now working on the operation plan to bring this vision into effect,” say hospital bosses. A key element of the work, they say, is how elderly care doctors from the hospital deliver regular medical cover to the community hospital beds.

Mr Bannister added: “At the heart of the Closer to Home agreement was an assurance that West Cumbria would continue to have an acute district general hospital providing a range of core clinical services that would be part of any such hospital. This must remain at the demand of the community of West Cumbria. No less will do.”

The new West Cumberland Hospital is set to open in 2015 and all plans for delivering services which need clinical change should be operational, as part of the re-shaped system, at least six months prior to the opening of the redevelopment, it is said.

Have your say

The West Cumberland Hospital cannot cope with emergency admissions let alone more elective surgery at the site. There are not enough staff to look after them. There has been a continuous run of Bed-Crisis meetings throughout October and November. STOP elective surgery at WCH there are not enough beds, nor enough staff to safely look after the patients.

Posted by Andrew on 20 December 2012 at 22:17

Despite what Mr Walker and the Trust say. The writing is on the wall for WEst Cumberland Hospital. In five years time what's the betting that it is ony a Monday -Friday Elective surgery centre, with no maternity, paediatric or A&E service. It's time for health care bosses to be open and transparent with the public and the press.

Posted by Realists on 20 December 2012 at 16:04

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