Friday, December 15, 2006

Another Valedictory from a WCH Consultant

This letter from Brian Mucci, former consulant radiologist at the West Cumberland Hospital, was also published today in the Whitehaven News

SIR – I first came to Whitehaven as a medical student in the summer of 1979. I spent a one month elective period in the surgical department. The standard of care was excellent.

I learned a lot, had a good social time and fell in love with the western Lake District. Over the years I revisited on many occasions including a honeymoon at Wasdale Head: probably not a good idea in October. When Whitehaven advertised for two consultant radiologists in 1986 I applied. Dr Tim Eyre and myself were appointed to these posts on the same day. Over the last 20 years we have worked together in a small friendly hospital which, although never at the cutting edge, was able to provide a high standard of care. I tell this to emphasise that I have no personal reasons to take a job elsewhere: I am leaving my post for professional reasons and I do so reluctantly leaving a family and a home behind in West Cumbria.

Dr Eyre has used these pages to explain his reasons for leaving and I would like to add my own:

North Cumbria Acute (NHS) Trust was the result of a merger of the former West Cumbria Trust with its counterpart in Carlisle. Unfortunately the opinions and interests of Carlisle dominate the new organisation.

As a group the four radiologists in Whitehaven formally asked for help in the form of an external review by The Royal College of Radiologists. This was agreed to at the highest level in the Trust, but it has not been done. The Trust is unwilling to take advice from our professional body and has reneged on its promises to do so.

Untoward incidents happen in any clinical setting but in North Cumbria the reporting of these has become a blame exercise where lessons are ignored, especially if they are likely to cost money.

Management deal with clinicians expressing genuine concerns in a way which I feel is close to victimisation, harassment, and bullying.

The Trust takes medical advice from its clinical directors. However they are integrated into the management structure in a way which inhibits them giving proper medical advice, particularly when this conflicts with financial priorities in the trust.

The “Health Economy” locally does not have enough money to support both hospitals. The acute trust is unwilling or unable to admit this or engage the public honestly. Reorganisations driven by cost are being presented as service improvements. These inevitably seem to result in loss of services from West to East.

The people of West Cumbria deserve high quality medical care. They have and will always need to travel for some specialist services. However current policy in the Trust will result in most services being based in Carlisle. Patients in the West will be separated from many clinical services by time, distance and poor roads and this will be bad for the West Cumbrian population.

What can be done? Active campaigning is needed to protect services. People in West Cumbria need to pressurise their politicians and health officials. Do not believe what they tell you, but believe what you see happening. Do not be fooled by a new hospital building: closely question what services are to be included. Here is a simple test: see how long it takes to replace Dr Eyre and myself with radiologists working and living in West Cumbria.


Consultant radiologist


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