Friday, September 28, 2007


I am still absorbing the consultation document about the future of NHS services in Cumbria. But three key things stand out.

The Trust needs to explain very much more clearly how exactly the proposal that Out-of Hours emergency surgery should no longer take place at the West Cumberland will work. On the face of it this does not appear to make sense.

Either there is a clear need for consultant led A&E service in West Cumbria, or there isn’t. If there is, it needs to be provided 24/7. How could you possibly argue that someone who has a heart attack in office hours needs a hospital in West Cumbria but it’s OK for anyone who has one at night to go to Carlisle?

Despite the initial spin, it appears that a significant reduction in beds is proposed both at Community Hospitals – despite their increased role – and at the hospital which replaces the West Cumberland. I am not convinced by the arguments for this. There has been a statistical smokescreen in the press, and the document uses clever language designed to make a cut in beds sound like part of an effective reconfiguration of service to meet modern requirements, but nevertheless this cut in beds seems to me to fly in the face of patient needs.

We still need to be very clear on what sort of intensive care is provided. Without adequate intensive care support neither A&E nor maternity are viable.


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