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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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New delay for NHS Trust takeover

THE delayed takeover of the Trust running West Cumberland Hospital has been called “disturbing’’ and “suspicious’’ by a local health campaigner.

CEREVJOHNB
wants answers: The Rev John Bannister

Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust had been poised to take over the trust, which also runs Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, in the next few weeks but this has now been delayed, partly due to financial issues.

The North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust would not explain how or why the situation had worsened, but stated “categorically” the acquisition was still going ahead.

The Rev John Bannister, spokesman for the Save Our Services campaign, said: “This is a most disturbing piece of news and one which should concern us all. This process of acquisition appears to be going backwards as opposed to forwards.’’

Copeland MP Jamie Reed called the delay “disappointing... but not entirely surprising”, saying the Northumbria Trust were “on all the evidence so far, the right people for us.’’

The final approvals required for the takeover will not be completed in time for the official acquisition date of April 1.

Jim Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has hinted that the “significant deterioration” in North Cumbria’s finances played a part in the delay.

Mr Bannister said: “I have some serious questions to put to both the Northumbria Trust and to North Cumbria Hospitals Trust concerning these delays and will seek an urgent opportunity to address them.”

He said there were challenges to be made to both Trusts concerning their roles and responsibilities in the acquisition process. “The whole reason for the acquisition is to do with the failing state of North Cumbria Hospital Trust’s financial position. Surely this further delay is not going to improve this.

“I am suspicious of the motives of the Northumbria Trust in their actions. It is about time the staff and community had some straight and honest answers from both sides.’’

Mr Reed said: “This is an extremely disappointing but not entirely surprising development. Northumbria – on all the evidence so far – are the right people for us. Their commitment is real and Jim Mackie and Ann Farrar are instilling confidence in the acquisition process. It is right that maximum rigour is being applied to that process and we have to get this right first time.

“But beneath this is a local NHS really struggling with competing and contradictory demands from a government reorganisation that is damaging and disrupting the planning and arrangement of local care systems. The ground keeps churning beneath the feet of Northumbria and the rules keep changing. All the while we need in the region of at least £20million more to deliver the new West Cumberland Hospital in the way it is expected by the public and by clinical staff.’’

Speaking from the West Cumberland Hospital following an operation, Mr Reed said: “The quality of care is very good, but it can only stretch so far and right now it is stretched to breaking point. Clinical and nursing staff need our support and understanding, Northumbria needs time to get this acquisition right first time and government needs to play a role in easing this transition, not making it harder.’’

NHS chiefs have confirmed they will be extending the current “interim management arrangements” – understood to include Ann Farrar’s role as interim chief executive – to tide it over.

Mr Mackey said that while he was “disappointed” at the setback after the work that had gone into the acquisition, the move was necessary to follow “the strict and appropriate process”.

“We remain fully committed to the acquisition and will continue to work very closely with colleagues in North Cumbria to ensure work progresses as swiftly as possible.”

Mike Little, chairman at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, echoed Mr Mackey’s views, but said the delay was “vitally important” to ensure everything went ahead in line with Government regulations.

“We will continue to work together to meet all of the necessary regulatory approvals over the comings months,” he said.

There is also now a delay in the signing of the £90million redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital. The finances for the redevelopment needed to be signed off and contracts signed with contractors Laing O’Rourke by last Friday. However, the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said the signing of the construction contract for the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital would happen as soon as three external technical reports are received from third parties.

The Department of Health has confirmed funding and has also allowed time for these things to be completed.

Have your say

here we go again delay delay! the managers and the government departments are to blame for the rising costs for WCH. Years have gone by with no action just talking and more talking due to their delay infation and the cost of the project must have risen dramatically it is their fault that we won't get the hospital we need. This seems to be inherent in copeland projects seem to fall by the wayside and who's to blame the people at the top. The same people who want to impose a nuclear dump in copeland. by the way it is already here but above ground. where are our millions promised. bad management from all departments including our MP Jamie Reed who has let us down big style both in and out of government!!! allerdale and workington seems to be the only area benefiting from this or is it just that they have better management looking after their interests!!!

Posted by g short on 1 December 2012 at 14:19

I agree with John it needs to be more open, but it is obvious the reason is; that Northumbria trust has had to employ hundreds of hours of staff when they have realised that the trust has been working on emergency levels for over two years. some wards were working on dangerous levels of staff. Could the finances. be questionable? Who knows. Because openness is just a standard comment. Over the last twelve months senior managers have been employed, no adverts and no interviews, and amazingly, a couple from another failing trust, but no nurses or admin or laboratory staff, the people who hold the place together for the good of the patients.
Sorry Jamie is ill as shadow minister for health he is in the perfect position to ask the pertinent questions in the house.Maybe there needs to be an investigation into the trust financial position and the expenditure, before the people of Cumbria end up with the poorest of health services. It is already well below standard. The community needs to start putting pressure on their representatives to get answers.

Posted by Christine wharrier on 30 November 2012 at 18:06

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