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Wednesday, 08 July 2015

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Michael: 'I'm lucky to be alive"

AN EGREMONT man feels lucky to be alive knowing he may have died en route from West Cumberland Hospital to Cumberland Infirmary had he been transferred under the current procedures for emergency surgery.

Michael McCrickard: ‘I was lucky – others may not be’

Michael McCrickard, 63, considers himself lucky he was dealt with at Whitehaven and not transferred to Carlisle, after suffering an internal bleed following a routine operation to remove his gall bladder.

But while grateful that he cheated death, he feels strongly that his story demonstrates just how important it is to keep after-hours emergency surgery at West Cumberland Hospital.

“I was lucky – others may not be,” he said. “We have a fantastic hospital at Whitehaven, the staff are brilliant. I can’t speak highly enough about it.

“Just who is making these decisions to constantly erode our NHS service here and move everything to Carlisle? And which of them wants to face a 45-mile journey when they are at death’s door?”

He wants people to protest about moving high-risk and out-of-hours surgery (evenings and weekends) to Carlisle “for patient safety”.

His partner, Evelyn Platt, said: “Michael is still alive and that is all that matters.” But she takes issue with plans to stop emergency surgery at West Cumberland Hospital after 6pm and have no on-call consultant available, which means cases having to go to Carlisle for operation. “Three members of hospital staff told me that Michael would not have been able to make the journey and would almost certainly have died on route,” she added.

But the hospital trust has rejected the premise that Mr McCrickard would not have survived the trip. John Wayman, the clinical director of surgery with the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “It is not the case that Michael would not have survived a transfer to the Cumberland Infirmary. It may, in fact, have saved time because we have a dedicated emergency surgical theatre at Carlisle so there would have been no need for Michael to wait for his surgeon to return to the hospital and for a theatre to be made ready.

“In the old system there is a risk that necessary staff could be tied up dealing with other sick patients or complicated obstetric cases elsewhere at West Cumberland Hospital. Therefore, we all agreed that by centralising the management of high-risk surgical patients, there are more specialists available in one place to cope with variations in urgent need to keep people safer more of the time.

“There simply aren’t enough appropriately trained staff to maintain a safe service for high-risk patients all of the time on the two hospital sites.”

Thousands have already signed a petition raising concerns about the recent changes to surgery in West Cumbria and Copeland MP Jamie Reed has called on the hospitals trust to hold a public consultation into the issue. He intends to deliver that petition to Parliament and Downing Street.

“I want a full consultation on the changes to services at the WCH,” he said. “The NHS is facing cut after cut and this forces hospital trusts to make financial choices often disguised as clinical decisions.

“I completely understand Mr McCrickard’s fears having experienced gall bladder surgery myself at the West Cumberland Hospital 12 months ago and am genuinely pleased that a patient has come forward to praise the services and level of care given to him by the West Cumberland Hospital – staff need to hear more from satisfied patients.

“The new WCH looks fantastic – but it has to provide the services our community needs.”

Mr McCrickard of Castle Croft, says he would doubtless have been Carlisle-bound in the back of an ambulance had his consultant not been willing to travel back to West Cumberland Hospital to undertake a second operation to stop the bleeding. Michael, a Sellafield technical assistant who has two daughters and six grandchildren, understands this saved his life.

He had been admitted last month as a day case for a fairly routine gall bladder removal by key-hole surgery. Due to his place on the theatre list, this turned out to be an overnight stay.

Evelyn said: “The operation seemed to go to plan and Michael recovered well after the anaesthetic and was returned to the ward. But at 7.15pm that evening he became disorientated and passed out. The ward staff and on-call registrar worked brilliantly together, quickly realising that Michael had been bleeding internally and had lost almost two pints of blood. He was lucky his consultant came back to operate and the story had a happy ending.

“If Michael had been at home during this emergency the ambulance would either have taken him to A&E at Whitehaven and they would have then transferred him to Carlisle or he would have been taken directly to Carlisle. Either way it was a journey he was unlikely to have completed alive.

Added Michael: “We have a fantastic hospital here on our doorstep – we need to keep it.”

Mr Wayman said: “We are pleased that Evelyn was happy with the care provided to her partner Michael at the West Cumberland Hospital and the on-going surgical care that he needed following his day case procedure. Delivering the best and safest care to our patients at all times is the number one priority of all the clinical leaders who are working hard to make improvements at both hospitals.”

Have your say

Let's put it this way... If it was a case of being operated on by a high profile surgeon, who is based at WCH, I know which one I would choose.....the 45 min journey to Carlisle would win hands down every time

I Fully understand the requirement for local services, but the simple matter of fact is that the skills of high profile medical consultants at WCH are too and far between, and that comment is based on past and current dealings. Just a pity Mr Dehbar retired so early, as he could have taught his predecessors a thing or two.

Posted by Dale on 30 November 2013 at 00:08

I am happy for Mr Michael McCrickard and his family.

Others may not be so lucky. I have been writing about very issue in local news media for some time now.

I strongly disagree with Mr Waymam, and ask question to him, how would he like to be treated in similar circumstance?

I do not want to say I told you so?, however We, public, of west Cumbria must protest, resist and fight these autocratic changes made in emergency care, unilaterally without any public consultation.

If we do not fight for our rights, than some one one day will pay very high price.

Mahesh Dhebar
Retired Orthopedic Consultant
west Cumbria

Posted by Mr Mahesh Dhebar on 28 November 2013 at 08:55

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