Thursday, October 04, 2007

Doctors comment on health proposals

The following article by Gillian Ellison on today's Whitehaven News records the concerns expressed by local consultant Bert van Mouric and other doctors and staff about the "Closer to Home" proposals

Consultant’s fears for urgent ops

By Gillian Ellison, Published on 04/10/2007

Detailed proposals for out-of-hours emergency surgery at West Cumberland Hospital need to be tested out to see if they will work, says a local consultant. Bert van Mourik, a consultant anaesthetist at the hospital, says staff are concerned about the proposal to remove out-of-hours emergency surgery from the hospital and concentrate it all at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

An assurance has now been given that the detail of the proposals for emergency surgery – as with other areas of acute hospital care in the Closer to Home plan – is to be looked at with clinicians, starting from next week. The medical director of North Cumbria Acute Hospitals Trust, Simon Raimes, told The Whitehaven News that the people providing the care at West Cumberland Hospital will be involved in putting all the facts and figures together, looking at patient safety, sustainability and quality of care and deciding whether such a move is workable.

Under The Primary Care Trust’s recently-revealed preferred option for the future of healthcare in Cumbria, a major trauma centre is planned for the Cumberland Infirmary. This would mean that people from West Cumbria requiring emergency surgery out-of-hours would be stabilised and then transferred, a move which would affect few people, it has been said.

But Mr van Mourik says: “At the moment we do large numbers of out-of-hours cases, many of them are complex and some of them are extremely ill. There’s no doubt that the delay caused by transfer would put those already high risk patients at even greater risk.” He added: “The proposals as they stand put a question mark over the future viability of the hospital. And I am very concerned that the reduction of services could lead to the withdrawal of training of junior staff.”

Mr Raimes said: “I can understand the anxiety because there isn’t the detail in it. It is a consultation document written by the Primary Care Trust, it’s not final. We are looking at what the future provision should be in North Cumbria.” He said the North Cumbria Acute Hospitals Trust’s different care stream groups – which are made up of clinicians – would now put the detail into the document.

“The emergency care stream board needs to define what exactly is emergency surgery and what operations we are talking about. “We transfer some patients to Carlisle for emergency surgery already, and we do it safely.”

Hospital union Unison is planning to invite health secretary Alan Johnson to West Cumbria. Christine Wharrier, Unison convenor at West Cumberland Hospital, said if that is not possible, a delegation of staff and public would be arranged to go to London to meet with him.


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