Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Maternity at West Cumberland Hospital

I attended a meeting this afternoon of the co-production working group which is developing a plan on how to implement "Option One" for maternity in North. West, and East Cumbria.

As most readers of this blog will probably be aware, "Option one" is not identical to the status quo but does maintain consultant-led maternity units at both West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven and the Cumberland Infirmary at Carlisle (CIC).

The group has come up with a very long list of questions about how maternity should be provided  and has worked through them.

Almost every question that I could imagine a worried expectant mother or her family might possibly ask is being addressed - the answers to some of these questions are still being developed but I found the progress being made to be very positive.

There is no date yet to actually implement "Option One" and it won't be implemented until all the plans are in place to do so safely and sustainably.

I can't possibly do justice to all the issues being raised but it is perhaps worth mentioning

* There will still be a Level One SCBU (Special Care Baby Unit) at both WCH and Carlisle

* Capacity issues are being looked at and don't appear to be a problem

* Availability of Anaesthetist cover is being addressed

* Pathways for safe and sustainable mother and baby patient transfers back home are being looked at in those cases - less than 20% of those who currently deliver at the West Cumberland - where a mother from the West Coast has her baby or babies in Carlisle.

The number of elective and emergency caesarean sections at Carlisle is likely to increase slightly but both elective and emergency C-sections will continue to take place at Whitehaven where that is the best option for mother and baby which in most cases it still will be.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Congratulations to the organisers of today's NHS 70th birthday celebration in Whitehaven

Can I congratulations the organisers and all who took part today in the Whitehaven commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the NHS, including an open air service and stalls and music, in St Nicholas's Gardens this afternoon (8th July 2018.)

Excellent refreshments were available in St Nicholas’ Coffee Shop in aid of NHS related charities, and there were health related information stalls and family entertainment, with a brief open air event (he didn't want to call it a service) led by the Revd Robert Jackson.

Well done all involved especially Carole Woodman, of St Bees who organised the event.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Celebration in Whitehaven tomorrow (Sunday 8th July 2018) for 70 years of the NHS

Following on from the NHS70 parkruns, the excellent service in Carlisle Cathedral l;ast week and various other events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, there will be a series of events including an open air service at St Nicholas's Gardens in Whitehaven tomorrow (8th July 2018)

Refreshments will be available in St Nicholas’ Coffee Shop in aid of NHS related charities, and there will be health related information stalls and family entertainment, with an open air service at 2pm led by Revd Robert Jackson.

Health campaigner Carole Woodman, of St Bees, has organised the event.

She said: “We focus on the hospital but there are so many services that happen outside the hospital as well. It’s about celebrating all NHS staff.

“Even though we are concerned about services moving there are some good things happening. For example, in September we are going to get year three medical students back again. 

“This is an opportunity for people to come and see some of the things that are happening and celebrate the hard work our NHS staff are doing. 

“It’s a thanksgiving celebration really for Whitehaven and Copeland, and an important event as we look forward to how we want our services to be in the future.”

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Service in Carlisle Cathedral today (1st July 2018) to celebrate 70 yeras of the NHS

To celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS, a service of thanksgiving and celebration will be held at Carlisle Cathedral this evening (Sunday 1st July 2018.

The celebration will bring together a procession of staff representing the many different elements of the NHS and its partner organisations that work together to deliver health and social care to the people of Cumbria.

The Bishop of Carlisle James Newcome will preach, with readings from NHS staff past and present.

The service will reflect on the history of the NHS, celebrate our staff, and look towards the future.

The Dean of Carlisle, , Mark Boyling, said:

“It is hard to think of anyone who is not touched in some way by an aspect of the National Health Service. So it is good to be able to invite people from across the county to come to the Cathedral for this special celebration. We have a lot to be thankful for.”

Everyone is invited to come along from 5.30pm for tea and coffee, with the service to take place from 6.30-7.30pm.

More details here.

For those in West Cumbria who are not able to get to Carlisle today, there will also be a celebration of 70 years of the NHS at St Nicholas's in the centre of Whitehaven from 12 noon to 4pm next Sunday, 8th July, with an open-air service at 2pm.

Friday, June 29, 2018

July meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

The next meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee will take place at Cumbria House, Carlisle at 10.30am on Monday 9th July 2018.

This committee consists of seven county councillors plus one district/city/borough councillor from each of the six district level councils in the county. It has the remit of scrutinising the decisions of local NHS organisations in the county and supporting the process of democratic accountability and oversight.

I referred in my previous post to the fact that the forthcoming meeting will be having discussion, which I very much welcome, about the reasons for cancelled operations, which is item 9) on the agenda.

The full agenda may be found here and also includes

7) A subcommittee report on the proposal to move certain specialist dental services from the Flatt Walks clinic in Whitehaven behind the sports centre to the health centre in Cleator Moor

8) The potential merger between the Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

10) An update on the Better Care Together plan for communication and engagement with the public for the Morecombe Bay University Hospitals NHS trust

11) A report by the Chief Executive of the NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group on the "Healthcare for the future" programme in North West and East Cumbria.


One of my particular interests in improving the NHS is how we can cut the number of cancelled operations.

Cancelled operations are a triple whammy which is bad news for everyone. They are terribly distressing for the patient and his or her family, bad for staff morale, and represent a waste of resources which has a most unhelpful on the finances of the NHS.

I have been asking questions about the causes of cancelled operations in Cumbria since my appointment to the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee.

The issue is going to be discussed as item 9 on the agenda of the committee at Cumbria House,  Carlisle on Monday 9th July. The meeting will be held in public, although sadly because of the distances involved and because it takes place during the working day I appreciate that it is difficult in practive for members of the public to attend.

Two reports on cancellations of operations at the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Morecombe Bay NHS Foundation Trust respectively are available to assist the discussion at the meeting and both can be found on the agenda page for the meeting on the County Council website here (ignore the fact that the second one says "to follow" - it's there now.)

I am pleased that the committee is discussing this important subject and hope that by doing so and acting as a "critical friend" we can help the NHS trusts who run services in our county address it.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

New renal unit now open at West Cumberland Hospital

The brand new renal unit is now open at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven - meaning an extra 16 patients can now be treated in West Cumbria closer to home, rather than travelling to Carlisle for kidney dialysis treatment.

Fantastic news and an example of an improved service in West Cumbria.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Feedback from Stroke Workship at Cleator Moor today

I attended the public session at Cleator Moor this afternoon about care for stroke patients in North, West and East Cumbria.

It was a very well attended meeting with more than a hundred people there, indeed it had to be moved from the medium-size room where Local Committee meets to the biggest meeting room in the building.

There were a lot of concerns expressed about transport issues involved in getting patients from West Cumbria to the proposed Hyper-Acute Stroke Unit in Carlisle as quickly as possible..

An assurance was given that the new system will not be implemented until hospital beds, staff, equipment and operating arrangements are all in place.

I hope we can make some progress on addressing some of the issues raised today before that point.

Expension of Kidney services at WCH - more patients to be treated locally

Tomorrow (Wednesday 20th June) marks the official opening of the newly expanded Renal unit at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven (WCH), which will enable more people to receive kidney dialysis treatment closer to home.

To help meet the ever increasing demand for dialysis services, the new unit at WCH has been expanded from seven treatment spaces to 11. The extra four spaces will allow a further 16 people to receive their dialysis treatment in WCH.

The expanded facility, located adjacent to the current unit in the previous maternity ward, will also provide a training room for home haemodialysis to build on the work on self-care dialysis which is ongoing within the unit.

Dr Andrew Bow, clinical director for Renal services, said:

“Nationally, demand for dialysis services is growing at six per cent per annum. The expansion of our services means that far fewer patients will need to travel to Carlisle for their treatment. Dialysis patients attend hospital for their treatment three times per week, so to have a service that suits them closer to home will make a huge difference to their lives.

“We are also working to provide more home haemodialysis care, to further free up capacity for those who require their dialysis in a hospital setting. This offers many benefits to patients who are suitable to undertake their treatment at home. The Home Therapies team currently provide peritoneal dialysis and plan to expand the service to allow patients the additional option of home haemodialysis, avoiding regular trips to the hospital for their treatment.

The North Cumbria Renal unit recently came first out of 56 renal centres for overall patient experience in a national survey about renal care. The survey asked kidney patients a range of questions about their care, including access to a renal team, privacy and dignity, communications, support and decisions about care.

The North Cumbria Home Therapies team were also shortlisted for a Burdett Nursing award for their ongoing dedicated work, securing £4,000 funding for the Trust.

Source: Cumbria Talk here.