Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Future of A&E at West Cumberland

Only a few days ago the magnificent new £90 million West Cumberland hospital buildings at Whitehaven were opened to treat their first patients.

Also within the last few weeks the Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, visited  the area and told the local NHS trusts that we need to ensure that acute services including Accident and Emergency continue to be offered at West Cumbria.

Nobody wants to close Accident and Emergency at West Cumberland Hospital.

Without wanting to blame the Whitehaven News - they were given a story and I understand why they felt they had to print it - the suggestion in today's paper that Accident and Emergency might be downgraded to a minor injuries unit next year is most unfortunate, not least because the only way it would happen would be if this became a self-fulfilling prophecy as such fears made it harder to recruit and retain skilled staff, particularly doctors, nurses and technicians.

Morale, recruitment and retention are the biggest single problem in the first place and it would be utterly ridiculous if we ended up losing a service which the community needs and the NHS wants to provide not because there was any fundamental reason to remove it but because people didn't believe it could be kept.

So we need a more positive attitude from the trust.

The government wants to keep acute services in West Cumbria

The NHS Chief Executive wants to keep acute services in West Cumbria

The public demand that we keep acute services in West Cumbria

We must make sure those services are kept and are safe and sustainable. The alternatives are simply not acceptable.

Yes, we need to make sure those services are of a world class standard and to do that we need to recruit and retain people.

Well, the best way to make this easier would be for the Trust to make it absolutely clear that they are 100% committed to retaining Accident and Emergency and a wide range of other acute services at West Cumberland Hospital.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, Trust medical director, told the Whitehaven News that: "The trust board very much supports a safe and viable service for the long-term future at West Cumberland Hospital."

He also said

"We are doing all we can to recruit to key vacancies including our innovative partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)."

Stop there, Jeremy. Talk about the positives. Make them happen.

I know perfectly well that what I have written above is easier to say than it is to do.

But we need those services and to make sure they are kept requires a relentlessly positive approach. Think about the negatives only as a means of making sure they don't become reality.

The Whitehaven News report referred to in this article is available online at

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

New facilities open at West Cumberland Hospital

The magnificent £90 new hospital buildings at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven are now open and have treated their first patients.
Some services have already now moved into the new hospital, whilst other wards and departments will transfer throughout this week
The aim is to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum but the hospital have asked patients and visitors for their patience during the transfer period.

Patients and visitors will access the new hospital via the existing main entrance – follow the corridor round to the left, past the old Fairfield (children’s) ward – except for anyone attending A&E. The entrance to the new A&E department is at the rear of the hospital site.

Everyone coming to the hospital by vehicle is reminded that the ring road around the hospital site has reverted to one-way traffic, in a clockwise direction. One small section of the ring road is still two-way for emergency vehicles only – the section between the helipad and the new A&E department.

Les Morgan, director for redevelopment at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“Staff have been working for months behind the scenes to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible for the transfer of services into the new West Cumberland Hospital, and I would like to thank them for all of their efforts. We would ask everyone for their patience as we move services across to the new build, and look forward to getting to work in this excellent new healthcare facility.”

Pharmacy, Endoscopy and Ambulatory Care (Nurse Practitioners) have moved into the new hospital over the weekend. A&E, Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC), the Emergency Admissions Unit (EAU), Coronary Care Unit (CCU), Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Radiology all move in today (Monday 5 October). Ward 2, the adult medical ward, will move on Tuesday 6 October. Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), Delivery, Maternity Ward and Paediatrics will move on Wednesday 7 October. Further moves, including Ward 1 – the adult surgical ward – Theatres, and the Day Case Unit will take place over the following weekend (9-12 October).

The Trust has produced a newspaper supplement and leaflet giving more information about services inside the new hospital, including handy floor plans. They can both be found around the hospital or on the Trust website at