Thursday, July 17, 2014

New report on WCH hospital services

Today's Whitehaven News has a very disturbing article which you can read in full here, about a confidential report (leaked to the paper) sugesting that major decisions are needed, including which hospital services should be concentrated on which sites.

Health chiefs are calling it “radical change on a scale previously unseen”.

And the report warns: “The ever increasing cost of not sustainable and the local NHS and the county council will be bankrupt if things carry on as they are.”

It is apparently a draft document, subject to more work and change and has not yet become official policy. In the report health chiefs admit that “not all services are as safe as they should be” and that the future of healthcare “will involve taking difficult decisions”.

The Whitehaven News said they understand from the interim document that more hospital services at West Cumberland Hospital are in danger of moving to Carlisle.

Mental health: Yewdale Ward, at the Whitehaven hospital could close, with mental health inpatient services instead focused at Carlisle. The report states that there are major opportunities to improve home treatment, thereby reducing hospital admissions. Such changes would be subject to fuller public engagement, it says, and would require formal consultation

Maternity services: Another independent review of the future of maternity services is likely across Cumbria. Scenarios have apparently been considered regarding local services but the detail is not given. The Whitehaven News’ Don’t Move Our Mums campaign was launched in 2006 to fight one of the suggested options which was to move consultant-led maternity care to Carlisle. It is not yet clear if this could be an option this time.

Emergency services: It is likely that there would be more concentration of some urgent care and acute medicine at Carlisle. Acute stroke care may move from Whitehaven.

Under emergency care the report states that people will still “need to be able to access A&E at West Cumberland Hospital and to access continued provision of lower risk medical interventions and admissions”.

It adds that over time higher risk/complex patients will need to be admitted to the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, “in some cases following stabilisation at West Cumberland Hospital”.
Elective (planned) operations: These would be significantly increased at the Whitehaven hospital, as previously stated in The Whitehaven News. High risk elective procedures would be concentrated at Carlisle.

Children’s services: A smaller number of children would be admitted to hospital with more emphasis on supporting children and families in the home environment, focusing on assessment rather than admission, according to the draft report.

The interim plan, from Cumbria Clinical Commissioning group (made up of GPs from around the county who hold the purse strings for healthcare) also says a number of public consultations may be needed:

“Change is never easy and we would like to give reassurance that we will be mindful at all times of our statutory obligations in relation to patient, public and stakeholder engagement and to those relating to formal public consultation.”

I believe we need to maintain as many servuces at WCH as is safely possible and am very concerned by the suggestions being made.


At 1:33 AM, Blogger Louisa said...

our son was admitted to the children's ward when he was struggling to breath and the west Cumberland doctors and nurses providing amazing support in attending to our child without delay. Had I needed to travel to Carlisle I don't know what the outcome would have been but having dealt with the situation so promptly, by staff nurses and the consultants I believe my child was well cared for. If the children's ward is withdrawn i will genuinely question whether we as a family with 2 children suffering from respiratory difficulties can remain in a local area where such professionalism is not so accessible.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Chris Whiteside said...

Thanks for that.

Glad to hear your son was well cared for and hope he made a full recovery.

Agree with you that we need a Children's ward at Whitehaven - the paediatric team at WCH has won awards as an outstanding department.


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