Monday, August 20, 2007

Fight for our District General Hospitals

West Cumberland Hospital is one of 29 District General Hospitals on a list published today by the Conservative party as being in danger of losing it's maternity service, A&E, or both.

Every resident of West Cumbria knows that this is not just scaremongering and it is not just the Conservatives who have expressed this fear. The future of Maternity Services in West Cumbria has been under review for several years. An excellent and broad based campaign "Don't Move Our Mums" has been fighting to avoid the situation where large numbers of women would have to travel forty miles over single carriageway roads to Carlisle to give birth.

The latest consultation document from the Cumbria NHS, "Close to Home" is due to be launched on or about 19th September. It is extremely important that everyone who cares about our local health service takes part in the debate on that consultation document.

The uncertainty about our local hospitals in Cumbria can be seen against a natioanl backdrop of redundancies, service closures, and in which a new NHS minister Ara Darzi, has said that ‘The days of the district general hospital…are over.'

Of £39 billion of spending commitments made byGordon Brown since becoming Prime Minister, none have so far been directed at the NHS. And since becoming Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson’s sole achievement has been to set up an 11 month review of the NHS.

Commenting, David Cameron said:

"The basic point here is we believe the district general hospital is a key part of the NHS.

"People have put money into the NHS, they've paid increased taxes and they want to see their district general hospital improve.

"People simply do not understand why maternity units and accident and emergency units are being shut down when accident and emergency admissions are up and births are up."

"That's why I say the Government can expect a bare-knuckle fight with us over the next few weeks and months about saving district general hospitals as a key part of the local NHS."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Close to Home: have your say

The long-awaited public consultation on the future of Health services in Cumbria is now expected to be launched on or about 19th September.

The document "Close to Home" is expected to cover all health issues in the county including the future of West Cumberland Hospital, Millom Community Hospital, and Mary Hewetson Cottage Hospital in Keswick: it will also cover GP and dental services.

The consultation will last some 13 weeks.

Doubtless as a result of the mauling which successive NHS leaderships have received at public meetings in Whitehaven and elsewhere in Cumbria, the Primary Care Trust has decided to go for an Open Day format in which people can drop in to speak to NHS representatives on a 1:1 basis.

This makes it all the more important that everyone with an interest in the future of our local hospitals and health services should come along to the Open Day events and have your say.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Great Debate

Another major public consultation on Health Services in Cumbria is due to be launched in a few weeks time. Keep an eye out for announcements from the Cumbria PCT and the NOrth Cumbria Acutue Hospitals NHS Trust.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

How the new University of Cumbria can help our hospitals

Today the new University of Cumbria was launched in Carlisle.This represents a huge opportunity for the county.

It begins to open the door on something of vital importance which was completely impossible without a strong University involvement: developing our District General Hospitals as a Teaching hospital.

This is not something which can be done overnight. But if local councils, PCT and the new university can all commit ourselves to the long-term aim of setting up a teaching hospital in Cumbria, we will have taken a step towards providing our hospital services with a more secure future.