Thursday, February 12, 2015

Torchlit procession to support West Cumberland Hospital

There will be a torchlight procession in Whitehaven this weekend in support of the campaign to keep services at West Cumberland Hospital.

Thirty-three torches will be paraded from St Nicholas Gardens, at 6pm on Sunday, to the hospital at Hensingham. Organisers are inviting people to join.

The procession has been organised by the “We Need West Cumberland Hospital” campaign group to raise awareness about the services which have been lost or are under threat.

Once the procession arrives at the hospital, at about 6.45pm, each of the torches will be switched off.

There are proposals being looked at by the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust to strip West Cumberland Hospital of its full maternity service as well as downgrading other services including children’s ward. It would mean thousands of people having to travel to access hospital care.

In September, the group organised a rally about the future of the hospital which saw 4,000 people gather to voice their concerns. Two months later they held a 24-hour pram relay from Millom to Carlisle, via the West Cumberland Hospital. Over 200 people took part together in the 72-mile relay.

A spokeswoman for North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust said: “The NHS is constantly progressing and it is right that our Trust strives to keep up to date with best clinical practice and medical advances in the interests of patient care and safety.

“As the national Dr Foster report confirmed only this week, more lives are now being saved in our hospitals thanks to the implementation of vital safety changes over the past two years. Following the centralisation of all complex high risk surgery at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in 2013, the number of deaths of people from West Cumbria associated with emergency surgery has fallen by over 50 per cent, showing that this was absolutely the right decision for our patients.

“The new £90 million West Cumberland Hospital will ensure that the vast majority of people living in West Cumbria will continue receive their healthcare locally. The new hospital will offer a range of services including an emergency floor with A&E, ambulatory care, ITU and critical care, seven state of the art operating theatres and improved diagnostic services.

“We have been very open about the challenges we continue to face and where further improvements are needed. Our draft clinical options appraisal was made public in October 2014 and we have been actively engaging with staff, patients and the wider community to help people understand the issues which still must be solved.”


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