No changes to hospital services ‘without agreement’
Last updated at 12:00, Friday, 04 October 2013
NO PERMANENT changes will be made to hospital services – including maternity – in west Cumbria without full public consultation and local consent, say health bosses.
Cumbria’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which decides how health budgets are be spent, has given the assurance following concerns about the recent migration of some specialised surgery from Whitehaven to Carlisle.
It is feared any loss of specialist skills could make the obstetric-led maternity unit, A&E and other key services vulnerable. The hospital trust admitted its clinicians have debated whether maternity services should be moved as part of discussions.
They said that there was no imminent threat but said there are challenges facing the local health service that can no longer be ignored – including the future of maternity and obstetrics at Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital.
Any changes would need to be agreed by the county’s GP-led CCG – which has today said that no permanent changes would be made until it has consulted with local people.
The people of west Cumbria have long been fighting for their hospital services, taking to the streets several times in recent years to protest again cuts. Now, despite a major redevelopment of the West Cumberland already being underway, there are fears the threats could resurface.
David Moore, Conservative group leader on Copeland Council, said there is no longer public trust in what health leaders say.
“We can see a new hospital building going up but we have no idea what is going to be in it.
“What concerns me is we are starting to lose clinical services that support the A&E department. I fear it may not be able to support a major incident, for example if something was to happen at Sellafield. The west Cumbrian shootings are another example,” said Mr Moore, a recently retired firefighter who also chairs the Sellafield emergency planning committee.
“It’s all right saying we are just moving a little service here or there but all those specialist consultants that run them also support the A&E department. In the event of an emergency we need that consultant support.”
He accused bosses of not being honest with the public – or councillors – and only communicating on a “need to know basis”. And he said the time had come to be up front. “We need to understand exactly what we are going to get in our new hospital. Without it people are going to have to get back on the streets.”
Concerns over the midwifery service were originally raised by Copeland MP Jamie Reed following a meeting with health chiefs on Monday. Representatives from the CCG were there.
A spokeswoman said: “Everyone at the discussion recognised the challenges in making sure that the population of west Cumbria has nearby access to a full range of high quality healthcare services.
“Collectively we agreed the urgent need to ensure a clear understanding of the services that will be provided within the new hospital. We also agreed that no permanent changes should take place without full consultation and the consent of local people.”
But after visiting the new hospital for a tour this week, Copeland mayor Geoff Garrity said he felt “100 per cent reassured” about its future.
“I never imagined I would be walking around a world-class facility like this in west Cumbria. The scale and size of what I have seen goes way beyond what I expected,” he said.
First published at 11:58, Friday, 04 October 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
So why has orthopaedic trauma, vascular surgery and out of hours surgery all been moved to Carlisle? (and no orthopaedic trauma was not moved because of the theatres failing inspection....the decision had already been made and was in place). Not forgetting the loss of the gynae ward. Apart from day surgery WCH now has only 1 general surgical ward and half an orthopaedic ward......Do patients from West Cumbria deserve to be treat in generalised mixed sex ward areas rather than specialist ward areas with specialised staff...or worse, spend an hour in an ambulance whilst requiring emergency surgery?? Furthermore, did they agree to these changes??!!
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