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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

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More hospital services ‘at risk’

YET more hospital services could be moved from Whitehaven to Carlisle in a major shake-up.

By Gillian Ellison

A confidential report – leaked to The Whitehaven News – states major decisions are needed, including which hospital services should be concentrated on which sites.

Health chiefs are calling it “radical change on a scale previously unseen”.

And it warns: “The ever increasing cost of services...is not sustainable and the local NHS and the county council will be bankrupt if things carry on as they are.”

It is a draft report, subject to more work and change.

In it, health chiefs admit that “not all services are as safe as they should be” and that the future of healthcare “will involve taking difficult decisions”.

And The Whitehaven News understands from the interim document that more hospital services at West Cumberland Hospital are in danger of moving to Carlisle.

Mental health: Yewdale Ward, at the Whitehaven hospital could close, with mental health inpatient services instead focused at Carlisle. The report states that there are major opportunities to improve home treatment, thereby reducing hospital admissions. Such changes would be subject to fuller public engagement, it says, and would require formal consultation

Maternity services: Another independent review of the future of maternity services is likely across Cumbria. Scenarios have apparently been considered regarding local services but the detail is not given. The Whitehaven News’ Don’t Move Our Mums campaign was launched in 2006 to fight one of the suggested options which was to move consultant-led maternity care to Carlisle. It is not yet clear if this could be an option this time.

Emergency services: It is likely that there would be more concentration of some urgent care and acute medicine at Carlisle. Acute stroke care may move from Whitehaven.

Under emergency care the report states that people will still “need to be able to access A&E at West Cumberland Hospital and to access continued provision of lower risk medical interventions and admissions”.

It adds that over time higher risk/complex patients will need to be admitted to the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, “in some cases following stabilisation at West Cumberland Hospital”.

Elective (planned) operations: These would be significantly increased at the Whitehaven hospital, as previously stated in The Whitehaven News. High risk elective procedures would be concentrated at Carlisle.

Children’s services: A smaller number of children would be admitted to hospital with more emphasis on supporting children and families in the home environment, focusing on assessment rather than admission, according to the draft report.

Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, said: “At the heart of this plan is the need to cut services to save money. This is not a purely clinical driven process, but increasingly a financial one. Further service withdrawal is unacceptable and non-negotiable – the people, patients and medical professionals of West Cumbria are not being treated with any respect whatsoever.”

Staff recruitment problems and overreliance on temporary staff is potentially a risk to the clinical and financial sustainability of services and a risk to continuity of service and quality, states the document entitled Cumbria Local Health Economy Strategic Plan 2014-19.

It admits that core standards are not being delivered, compromising patients and that the system spends more money than it has, which needs to change.

“Delivering our aims and objectives will be difficult. We will need to achieve radical change on a scale previously unseen,” it says.

The interim plan, from Cumbria Clinical Commissioning group (made up of GPs from around the county who hold the purse strings for healthcare) also says a number of public consultations may be needed.

“Change is never easy and we would like to give reassurance that we will be mindful at all times of our statutory obligations in relation to patient, public and stakeholder engagement and to those relating to formal public consultation.”

More details are being put together between now and September with more specific plans submitted to NHS England in the autumn.

  • See The Whitehaven News for in-depth analysis of the proposals
Have your say

In 1998 a report said this: "A commitment to deliver high quality care should be at the heart of everyday clinical practice. In the past many health professionals have watched as board agendas and management meetings have become dominated by financial issues and activity targets."

In 2010 the Francis report said "Management thinking during the period under review was dominated by financial pressures and achieving FT status, to the detriment of quality of care"

And now the NHS in Cumbria wants us to believe that moving care hours (if you have a car and longer if you don't) is about patient care not finance.

We don't believe them. There will be more suffering. Have they learned nothng?

Posted by anonymous on 20 July 2014 at 10:03

I wish someone would ask the big question, why did we waste 90 million on a new Whitehaven hospital when there are almost no consultants, shrinking services, shrinking support services, and more of the functions are being transferred to the PFI flagship that is CIC.
The problem is the former individual trusts even combined were to small to be fully viable, but when you factor in the PFI costs it probably makes more sense to walk away from the PFI contract and move to the newer, single room, no PFI overheads building, however as the management are all based at CIC that looks unlikely. To many vested interests in management basing themselves in CIC to look at alternatives, that do not involve shutting Whitehaven and leaving a brand new hospital to rot.
As a tax payer and a former employee at WCH i can only look on with weary cynicism.

Posted by Alan on 19 July 2014 at 18:41

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