Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Nominate your NHS hero for an award

To mark its 70th anniversary the NHS is organising a series of awards for NHS heroes, for which nominations can be put forward through local MPs until 23rd March.

We are incredibly fortunate to  have many fantastic people in Cumbria’s NHS doing great work on behalf of patients.

Whether they are doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and paramedics, midwives, dentists or the unsung heroes in other roles, our hospitals and GP and dental practices and other services are full of caring, hard-working people who often make incredible efforts to care for the sick and vulnerable, sometimes in very difficult circumstances.
Just to give one of the many, many examples of people in Cumbria’s health service who go way beyond the call of duty, Lisa Cairns, a matron in theatres and anaesthetics, walked for three hours through the snow on Saturday to get to work.
There are many other wonderful people like Lisa in our NHS.

We should be grateful to every one of them and thank them for what they do. The 70th anniversary awards scheme is an opportunity for us all to do this.
Anyone in Copeland who wants to nominate a health worker for an award can do so through Trudy Harrison MP before 23rd March. Details of the scheme are available at

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Archbishop of York to open stroke unit at WCH

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will be visiting West Cumberland Hospital next week to open the stroke unit in the name of Professor Olu Orugan, (pictured below) former stroke consultant in West Cumbria, who sadly died last year. As part of his visit, the Archbishop is hoping to meet, greet, and encourage staff and patients at the West Cumberland Hospital.

Professor Olu Orugun was a much revered consultant at the Trust and is sadly missed by all who knew him. Olu worked tirelessly to improve the health of the people of Cumbria and the staff who worked with him wanted a lasting legacy to remember his hard work and dedication.

The Archbishop is in Cumbria for the four-day mission entitled Moving Mountains.. This is an ecumenical mission from Thursday 8 March to Sunday 11 March involving the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army and the United Reformed Church with hundreds of local events taking place.

The Archbishop will arrive at 5pm on Friday 9 March. There will be opportunity to meet and chat with him from around 5.30pm in the Costa Coffee area of West Cumberland Hospital.

Revd Simon Cake, chaplain at West Cumberland Hospital for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“This is a huge honour for the Trust and it’s fantastic that the Archbishop is making a visit here. I know he is keen to speak to as many staff, patients and visitors as possible so please make yourself known to him.

“People who come into hospital for treatment can be facing huge changes and it’s important that the chaplaincy team is there to offer support to complement the brilliant medical work and offer a listening ear to peoples’ problems or anxieties." 

Paul Mead, renal consultant at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“Professor Orugun worked tirelessly to better the health of the people of Cumbria and was a real ambassador for the Trust. He was a much respected consultant and was liked by everyone he came into contact with. He was hugely popular with staff and patients and the work he put into the Trust will be a lasting legacy to the people of west Cumbria.

“It’s a real testament to the man he was that so many of the staff here at West Cumberland Hospital wanted to do something in his memory and he would honoured that the Archbishop is opening the unit in his name.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tonight's "Working together" meeting cancelled due to snow

Due to adverse weather conditions (e.g. roads not being safe in parts of the county due to heavy snow and police advice not to travel) the NHS "Working Together" steering group meeting which had been due to take place at Allerdale House, Workington at 6pm this evening HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

The meeting will be rescheduled and notice of the new date, time and venue given in the near future.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cumbria Health Scrutiny meeting

I spent much of today at the Cumbria Health Scrutiny meeting in Carlisle.

I will have more to write this week about what was an extremely interesting meeting, for which the  full agenda including reports is available here.

As a taster, here are what the Morecombe Bay NHS (covering an area which includes South Cumbria and part of Lancashire) describes as "The five hard truths" which they are seeking to address and about which they have started a process of "public engagement."

(They are not, incidentally, at this stage making any definitive proposals to deal with this and do not expect to put forward any service closures or redundancies when they do put such proposals forward.)

"The five hard truths are:

1. Too much of the NHS budget is now spent on treating a number of health conditions that are largely preventable and some of these issues lie outside the NHS. We are spending on ‘cure’ and ‘follow up’ rather than prevention.

2. Despite an active recruitment drive the recruitment of clinical staff is challenging, especially in some specialties in the hospital, in community services and in general practice. We spend significant amounts of money on locums, agency staff and have to pay over the odds’ for staff to provide ‘fragile services’ in Morecambe Bay

3. The best bed is often your own bed –for some people being in hospital can lead to deterioration in health e.g. muscle wastage. Some people`s length of stay in a hospital bed is longer than the national average. We also know that there will always be people who do need to be in hospital.

4. The demand on all health and care services continues to increase e.g. on GPs, on community nurses etc. “winter pressures” are often faced all year round. At home not everyone in Morecambe Bay has easy access to transport, good living conditions, or care and support from family and friends. For those family and friend who are carers looking after vulnerable people, this can cause pressure and in turn affect their health.

5. There are areas of waste and duplicated spend in some areas e.g. variations in prescribing, spending on running duplicate clinical and ‘back office’ services across many sites and different buying processes. "

More detailed report on the meeting to follow.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Learning lessons

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had an article in the telegraph this week on improving patient safety which makes some points we can all take on board about how we can all work together to make the NHS a global leader in learning lessons and removing risks to health.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

February meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee - Monday 26th Feb 2018

The next meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee will held on Monday 26th February at 10.30 am at Cumbria House, Botchergate, Carlisle, and will be open to the public.

After the usual boilerplate (apologies for absence, minutes of previous meeting, etc) the first major item on the agenda, item six, is the presentation of a report from the Chief Executive of the CCG (The clinical commissioning group) for North Cumbria NHS.

This will include details of the 12 month trial of "Option One" Consultant-led maternity at West Cumberland Hospital as reconfigured following the 2016 Success regime consultation:

Report by the Chief Executive, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group

The other main items on the morning's agenda are as follows:

To consider a report by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

To consider a report by Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group.

To consider a report by Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group.

Then after lunch, resuming at about 1.30pm, the main items for consideration are:

To consider a report by the Programme Director for South Cumbria and Lancashire STP.

To consider a report by the North West Ambulance Service.

The full agenda including reports is available here.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Date agreed for 12 month trial for WCH maternity service

The Clinical Commissioning Group has now agreed the dates for the 12 month period to test the sustainability and safety of Consultant-led maternity at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH)

Members of the Governing Body were keen to emphasise that this is not merely a stay of execution for the service. It is a timescale for the sustainability and safety of the service to be considered.

It was agreed by members of NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Governing Body that the 12 month period for testing the ability to deliver consultant-led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven will start in April.

Following the "Healthcare For The Future public consultation" the decision was made by the CCG to support the delivery of consultant-led care at the West Cumberland Hospital with some mothers who may potentially have higher risk babies delivered at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

It was suggested at the time that there would be plans to test the sustainability of the service over a 12 month period, but that period was not started while the outcome of a "call-in" by Cumbria County Council's health scrutiny committee was under consideration. That was finally resolved at the end of 2017.

Over the past year a "Working Together Steering Group" (WTG) and other working groups have been set up involving the community, third sector, frontline health and care staff, as well as system leaders, to support the wider efforts to sustain the service through what has been called "co-production."

An Independent Review Group (IRG) has also been established. This is a panel made up of independent clinical experts chaired by Dr Bill Kirkup, which will assess progress over the 12 months.

Jon Rush, chair of the CCG, said:

“It is already 11 months since we made the decision. There has been considerable work within the service to prepare for the implementation of Option 1 and a huge amount of work by the community to help tackle these long standing recruitment issues.

“But the challenges we faced have not gone away and the uncertainty is not helping this fragile service. The decision to start this 12 month period will allow some certainty.

“The CCG has always been – and remains – committed to doing everything possible to provide consultant-led services at Whitehaven.”