Thursday, January 03, 2019

Children's medical records to be made available to their parents online

The "red book", containing a child's medical records, is to be made available to parents online as part of government plans to improve NHS care for mothers and new babies.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also promised more specialist neonatal staff and intensive care cots for newborn babies.
The measures are designed to make maternity care safer while cutting stillbirths and infant deaths.
England still lags behind many European countries on baby deaths.
In 2017, 1,857 babies died during their first month of life, out of a total of more than 640,000 delivered in England.
Figures show that the number of stillbirths have declined steadily since 2010, but ministers say there is still more to do.


Matt Hancock said: "Great care also means safe care, but sadly too many women are still suffering the unimaginable tragedy of losing a child.
"We are committed to saving 4,000 lives by 2025 by halving stillbirths, maternal and infant deaths and serious brain injuries in new-borns."

Saturday, December 15, 2018

LIsa Drake on missed opportunties to improve the health journey

One of my colleagues on Cumbria's Health Scrutiny Committee has just, in a very timely message given that the committee will be hearing reports on digitisation of patient records on Tuesday, pointed out to me a blog post by Lisa Drake, who works for Seascale Medical practice.

Lisa is an advocate of making better use of digital technology to improve patient experience and care and the working lives of NHS staff.

She recently had an experience of being on the other side of the table when she needed an issue checked out in relation to her own health, and records her patient journey and experiences on her blog "What Lisa did next," here, in a post called "Digital Health - missed opportunities."

Happily she received the all clear so far as her own health was concerned - the lump was not dangerous and has been dealt with.

However, the course of events as described should make anyone who wants to see an efficient health service making the best use of new technology to give patients the best possible treatment and experience want to weep.

Ironically when the health service finally dealt with the most important bit, the actual clinical side of treating her as a patient, she "could not fault" the care she received.

"Clearly they are good at the clinical stuff." she wrote.

What an irony that when the critical bit of actually diagnosing and treating the patient was done perfectly, the opportunity to make patient journey as smooth and efficient as possible was missed because things which ought to have been easier were not done.

I know Matt Hancock is trying to encourage NHS Trusts to address and learn from this kind of issue and I hope we in Cumbria can do so.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 2018 meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee

The next meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee will be held on Tuesday 18th December in Cumbria House Carlisle starting at 10.30 am.

Full details of the agenda and supporting papers can be found here.

The agenda items for discussion are as follows:

1. Apologies for Absence

2. Membership of the Committee

3. Disclosures of Interest

4. Exclusion of Press and Public
(To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda. They won't be)

5. Minutes of the meeting held on 8 October 2018

6. Committee Briefing Report
(To consider a report by the Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Adviser).

7. What Does a Good Life Look Like for People with Learning Difficulties in Cumbria
(To consider a report by Healthwatch Cumbria).

8. HealthCare for the Future Update
(To consider a report by the Chief Operating Officer, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group).

9. Future of Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Services
(To consider a report by Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust).

10. Potential Merger Between Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS
(To receive an update from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust).

11. Digital Records Update
(To consider reports by the Executive Director of Finance, Estates and Digital, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which outline what progress is being made on digitising records across the system and improving system interoperability, plus a description of how current systems operate across the various NHS organisations in Cumbria and the challenges this creates, financial and otherwise).

12. Date of Future Meeting To note that the next meeting of the Committee will be held on Tuesday 26 February 2018 at 10.30 am at County Offices, Kendal.

Friday, December 07, 2018

£963 million to be spent on hospital improvements across England

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that 75 hospital and community health projects will receive between them £963 million investment of taxpayers' money to improve services. and facilities.

The extra funding to upgrade facilities will mean that more people can be treated and more can be done to prevent ill-health in the first place. 

Projects that will receive a share of the funding include: a new emergency department in Walsall a multimillion-pound eye care facility in London a major expansion of mental health services in Newcastle, Gateshead and Liverpool 

Almost £800 million of the funding will go to projects outside London in order to improve access to care across the country. 

The investment comes ahead of the launch of the government’s long-term plan for the NHS. The long-term plan is the biggest ever funding increase for the NHS and will see its budget increase by £20.5 billion every year by 2023 to 2024. 

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: 

"We want even more patients to receive world-class care in world-class NHS facilities and this near billion-pound boost – one of the most substantial capital funding commitments ever made – means that the NHS can do just that for years to come. 

This will not only support dedicated staff through the redevelopment and modernisation of buildings, but it will allow additional services to launch for the first time, improving patients’ access to care in their local area as part of our long-term plan for the NHS."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

NHS response to the A595 consultation

The senior leadership of the NHS in North Cumbria has sent in a very positive response to the A595 consultation, supporting the proposed Whitehaven Relief road

Such a road would be a huge benefit to ambulances and patients needing to get to West Cumberland Hospital in a hurry, especially if the proposal included a spur to WCH. This could greatly assist patient outcomes as I have previously noted. It would also make it easier for staff and resources to get to the West Cumberland and thereby improve the viability of the hospital. 

As I have also noted, the proposed new relief road is not dependent on Moorside. When the transport secretary came to Whitehaven to kick off the consultation on the proposed Whitehaven Relief Road he reiterated his "Cast Iron Commitment" to improving Cumbria's Roads as you can read on the government website at


Chris Grayling added:
  • "Investing in Cumbria’s vital transport routes cuts congestion, ensures drivers enjoy faster, safer journeys, and increases the freight capacity needed to drive forward jobs and economic growth." 
  • "This shows our cast-iron commitment to Cumbria, as we deliver the investment needed to provide businesses and commuters with more reliable and resilient journeys." 
  • The Secretary of State for transport also confirmed ongoing discussions with local partners on proposals to progress development of a major programme of upgrades on the Cumbrian Coast rail line to support expected major investments in West Cumbria and the creation of new jobs.

The consultation lasts until 19th December 2018. Consultation survey forms were sent out to residents in the Whitehaven area and for some distance around and hundreds have already been returned but the more views we get submitted the better.

You can also read details of the proposals and respond online at


I believe that we need this road. If you have not already done so, please consider responding to the consultation and said so, and perhaps including in their response that it would be a good idea if the relief road included a spur to West Cumberland Hospital.

If you want to respond to the consultation you can do so using any of the four following methods by 19 December 2018:

  • Online – complete the response form online using the above link
  • Complete the consultation response form in the consultation brochure and return it using the freepost address provided 
  • Email your response to: A595Whitehaven@highwaysengland.co.uk 
  • Post – write to Highways England at: 

Business Reply Plus Licence Number RTZS–CEET–CSXR WSP
Amber Court
William Armstrong Drive
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear NE4 7YQ

All responses should be returned by 19 December 2018. 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

How the Whitehaven Relief Road could help West Cumberland Hospital

There is a current public consultation about a possible A595 relief road for Whitehaven which I believe has the potential to significantly improve the viability of West Cumberland Hospital and outcomes for patients.

This is a first stage consultation by Highways England who have not yet defined a route for the proposed new road and assure me that they are genuinely interested in suggestions from local stakeholders and the public about where the road should go.

One of the suggestions which has been discussed between local county councillors and Highways England is the possibility that the relief road could include a specific spur to the hospital. The most likely route - East of Whitehaven from approximately the present Moresby roundabout at the South end of the Distington by-pass to a point between Westlakes and Moor Row - would make this relatively easy to add.

Clearly this would be a huge benefit to ambulances and patients needing to get to WCH in a hurry - and I doubt if I need to spell out to anyone reading this the potential benefit in terms of patient outcomes from that - but it would also make it easier for staff and resources to get to the West Cumberland and thereby improve the viability of the hospital. 

The proposed new relief road is not dependent on Moorside and it is a serious proposal. At the start of this month Transport secretary Chris Grayling came in person to Copeland to kick off the consultation on the proposed Whitehaven Relief Road and announced his "Cast Iron Commitment" to improving Cumbria's Roads as you can read on the government website at


Chris Grayling said:
  • "Investing in Cumbria’s vital transport routes cuts congestion, ensures drivers enjoy faster, safer journeys, and increases the freight capacity needed to drive forward jobs and economic growth." 
  • "This shows our cast-iron commitment to Cumbria, as we deliver the investment needed to provide businesses and commuters with more reliable and resilient journeys." 
The consultation formally began on Wednesday 7th November 2018 and lasts until 19th December 2018. Consultation survey forms were sent out to residents in the Whitehaven area and for some distance around and the consultation programme includes another two drop-in meetings next week:

Date Time Venue Address


Wednesday 28 November 2pm – 7pm Beacon Museum The Beacon Portal, West Strand, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY
Thursday 29 November 10am – 2pm Ingwell Hall (Gunson Room) Ingwell Drive, Westlakes Science and Technology Park, Moor Row, Whitehaven, Cumbria, CA24 3JZ


You can also read details of the proposals and respond online at


I believe that we need this road and that it would be particularly helpful if as many people as possible responded to the consultation and said so, and if they also included in their response that it would be a very good idea - and very probably save lives - if the relief road included a spur to West Cumberland Hospital.

If you want to respond to the consultation you can do so using any of the four following methods by 19 December 2018: 

  • Online – complete the response form online using the above link
  • Complete the consultation response form in the consultation brochure and return it using the freepost address provided 
  • Email your response to: A595Whitehaven@highwaysengland.co.uk 
  • Post – write to Highways England at: 

Business Reply Plus Licence Number RTZS–CEET–CSXR WSP 
Amber Court 
William Armstrong Drive 
Newcastle upon Tyne 
Tyne and Wear NE4 7YQ 

All responses should be returned by 19 December 2018. 

Primary and Community Healthcare

The Health Secretary has announced £3.5 billion for primary and community healthcare so that more people can access the healthcare they need from the comfort of their own home as part of our long term plan for the NHS…
 
·         The Conservative government is allocating £3.5 billion in funding towards community-based rapid response teams to provide urgent care and support at home. This will include support for residents in care homes so we can reduce pressures on the NHS.
 
·         These changes will provide a genuine and high-quality alternative to hospital meaning more people can leave hospital quicker, or avoid being admitted in the first place – which is better for patients and reduces pressure on our NHS and its hardworking staff.