Thursday, January 24, 2008

Delayed "Closer to Home" meeting

The delayed public meeting which had been due to be held on Monday in Millom about the "Closer to Home" NHS proposals was held this lunchtime in the Network Centre at Millom School.

About forty to fifty local residents attended, including doctors, nurses, health visitors, and concerned residents and patients.

From the viewpoint of Millom residents there are some positive aspects of the "Closer to Home" proposals. These include

* the prospect of a "Health Campus" bringing together the community hospital, Nursing home, and other services.

* Promised efforts to bring more patients back from acute hospitals many miles away from Millom to recieve care locally in Millom Community Hospital or other local venues.

However, there are also some understandable concerns about the propoals.

* Millom Community Hospital is likely to drop from the present 14 beds to 9 beds under the proposals.

* There are concerns about the financial sustainability of the proposed model, and whether the savings it is based on can be acheived

* The issue of Ambulance cover was raised: the PCT propose to invest £2 million of additional funding improving the ambulance service in Cumbria but concerns were expressed about the level of cover in Millom.

* There is still a great deal of uncertaintly about how the arrangements for Emergency services and services for patients with signifcant trauma will be provided. It was admitted at the meeting that they cannot yet say how this will be handled for residents in Millom and South Copeland. Another consultation, similar to "Closer to Home" but affecting hospital services in the Barrow and South Lakeland areas is about to start: because patients who have an accident or medical conditiopn requiring emergency treatment in the Millom area are often taken to Furness General Hospital (FGH) in Barrow the trusts cannot make a definitive statement about how this service will go forward until the South Cumbria consultation moves forward.

One of the most powerful contributions to the meeting came from an Emergency Services doctor who works at West Cumberland Hospital and lives in Millom: he emphasised the need for enough beds at the acute hospitals if safe emergency care is to be provided.

The consultation is open until 1st February: I would encourage any resident who cares about local health services in West Cumbria (or North and Central Cumbria) to take the opportunity to feed your views back to the PCT before that.

You can give your views to the PCT online at


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