Friday, February 01, 2008

Copeland Conservative response to NHS consultation

The following comments were made to the "Closer to Home" consultation on behalf of Copeland Conservatives.

Copeland Conservatives endorse the comments on the "Closer to Home" proposals made by both Copeland Council and Allerdale Council. We would particularly like to emphasise the following issues and concerns.

Firstly, the PCT and Acute Trust must learn from the difficulties experienced during this consultation about the need to improve communication with clinicians, GPs, other staff, and the public. Although there were eventually some welcome improvements made in the proposals as a result of feedback, particularly from Consultants at WCH, it was painfully apparent for most of the consultation period that the efforts made by the trust to engage with consultants and GPs were not working as well as we would all have wished. The commissioning model in "Closer to Home" will not work unless all GPs can be far more effectively involved with the process than many of them evidently were with the consultation.

Secondly, while the revised proposals for care of patients with significant trauma do appear to be a significant step forward, we wish to reiterate that the original form of words in the consultation document would not have been acceptable.

Thirdly, we welcome the proposals to invest more money in the ambulance service: this is and will remain a key part of providing medical care in an area with the sort of geography which Cumbria has, and it will be necessary to work to improve it.

Fourthly, while the new Acutue Trust proposals for the number of beds at West Cumberland Hospital have gone some way to reduce our concerns, we believe that it is essential not to implement any bed reductions in Acute or Community hospitals until replacement services are fully in place. The number of beds proposed in the original consultation document was not in our view adequate.

Fifthly we consider it most important that the issues raised during the consultation affecting stroke care and palliative care continue to be addressed.

Sixthly we are concerned that Millom and South Copeland to some extent fall between the areas affected by the "Closer to Home" consultation and the separate consultation for South Cumbria expected later this year, especially as regards trauma and emergency care. It is extremely important that the Millom and South Copeland area does not lose out as a result of this status.

Finally we believe that the financial model for the proposals will need to be very carefully monitored to ensure that it remains sustainable.

We welcome the constructive dialogue that community representatives have had with the PCT and acute trust over the past few months, and particularly in January, and look forward to working with them for better health care in Cumbria.

Cllr Chris Whiteside
Conservative Parliamentary Spokesman for Copeland


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