Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hospital Site to be set by December?

At a presentation this afternoon at a Copeland Council meeting we were advised that the Strategic Health Authority has given the green light for submission of a business case for a new Acute Hospital in West Cumbria and that it is hoped to make a decision on the siting by December.

There was some discussion on the siting. It has been erroneously suggested in some quarters that Copeland Council supports Pow Beck as a site for the new hospital. It was confirmed today that this is not correct.

The actual view of Copeland councillors, confirmed today by people of both parties, is that we support a new hospital in Whitehaven, on a sustainable site with good access to the A595.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

David Cameron's support for local health facilities

While David Cameron was in Cumbria today I raised with him some of the issues around health in Cumbria including the future of our local hospitals and the impact of the government's proposals to stop GP surgeries from being able to include a pharmaceutical dispensary if there is another one within a mile.

David Cameron confirmed that the Conservatives

1) Support District General Hospitals as the basis for Acute Healthcare

2) Oppose the forced imposition of "polyclinics" which may cut family GP services

3) Support the retention of dispensing in GP surgeries

If these policies were in place it would remove the current threat to Bootle and other surgeries.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Millom "Health Village" moves closer

Proposals to concentrate more health services on the site of Millom Community Hospital look to be moving nearer.

The County Council's plan to improve six care homes in Cumbria, including the move of a home in Millom to a site adjacent to the hospital, appear to be attracting support, and NHS Cumbria, (e.g. the local PCT) has indicated that they are likely to approve the business plan for the Millom "Health Village."

The concentration of these facilities in new buildings adjacent to the hospital is good news and is likely to strengthen further the case for maintaining and supporting Millom Community Hospital.

Recession warning

In this month's Business Gazette the head of Cumbria's chamber of commerce warns that there is a real danger of recession. This is correct. Promises of "no more tory boom and bust" from Gordon Brown have been shown up as the humbug they always were.

The government does not bear 100% of the blame for this recession - some of it is due to world factors. But Gordon Brown's failure to put more money aside in good times is exacerbating the problems now we have hit a bad season.

Packed meeting hears case for GP surgeries

Over a hundred local residents attended a public meeting in the village hall at Bootle Station this evening, which was called to discuss the impact of the government's pharmacy proposals on rural GP surgeries, including the possible closure of the Bootle branch surgery as a result.

Strong opposition to the proposals was expressed. A more detailed report is on Chris Whiteside's blog, see link at right.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Trust gains University title

The NHS Trust which runs the West Cumberland Hospital and Carlisle hospital has gained the University brand. It has been announced that the new title for the trust will be the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

This recovnises that north Cumbria’s two main hospitals have been working with local universities to train medical staff. That recognition should also make it easier to open up new opportunities for trainee doctors and nurses across the area, and this is greatly to be welcomed. The aim must be to establish a first class health education and training centre for Cumbria.

The trust’s bid to improve training has been made with the support of the Universities of Cumbria and Newcastle, which are both involved in new medical student teaching schemes, and the progress made has now been recognised by the Privy Council and the Department of Health.

The "News and Star" comment today summed the situation up very well:

"The NHS reached the grand age of 60 last month, and its core principles – providing free healthcare for all, regardless of wealth – are still admired by many. But it is also an institution beset with problems, and over the years the Whitehaven and Carlisle hospitals have not escaped the effects of inadequate funding and service cuts at a national level.

University status will secure investment and the continuing provision of healthcare for the people of north Cumbria. These are major developments which, if all goes to plan, will have wide-reaching benefits.

The county has been suffering from a brain drain for too long, and we need to not only attract young talent, but retain it too, if the much-anticipated regeneration of Cumbria is to be a success."