Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Plans for the future of Maternity and other health servicesw in Cumbria to be released on Monday

DON'T MISS MONDAY'S ANNOUNCMENT of the start of the latest round of consultations on the maternity services in Cumbria.

The Success Regime will be releasing a formal consultation document into local healthcare next week.

Chairman Sir Neil McKay told a public meeting at Cockermouth Community Hospital last Tuesday:

“The future of maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital has been discussed endlessly. We have real concerns about whether it's possible to maintain a consultant-led maternity service there.

“If our concerns are correct then we have to come up with other options. I would fail if I offered a service that was not sustainable.

“This is a complex set of issues, our thoughts are in the consultation document. The present position is a real worry and I understand how passionate people feel.”

He is right that this is a complex issue and about the need to safe and sustainable options but I am seriously alarmed by the signals being sent.

Don't forget that when independent national assessors visited Cumbria recently to look at the options for maternity care, they made a particular point of saying in their report that they had expected to recommend a centralised maternity unit for the county but when they saw what the position was really like in the county - little matters like how long it takes to drive between places like Whitehaven and Carlisle or from Gosforth to Barrow - they changed their minds and recommended as Option One that consultant-led maternity care should be retained at all our major hospitals including WCH and FGH.

 It sounds like we are about to have to fight, fight and fight again, yet again, for our hospitals.

As usual, NHS leaders are insisting that no decisions have yet been made while campaigners are claiming that they have.

"The public will have three months to comment, no decisions have been made or will be made until the end of that time," said Sir Neil.

I'm not going to take sides on that point beyond pointing out the obvious:

If we don't like aspects of what is proposed and make a huge fuss about it there is a chance that the "success regime" and local NHS leaders will listen, but if we don't make a fuss you can be certain that they can't listen to what has not even been said.

Details of the proposals will be available on the success regime's website and in surgeries.

The proposals will also include plans for "Integrated Care Teams" and for increases and decreases in the number of beds at community hospitals with more beds at Cockermouth but fewer at Maryport, Wigton and Alston.

"Integrated care teams are the bedrock of our proposals for the future. These teams will find ways of preventing people being referred to hospital unless they need to go. They will also ensure people go home as soon as possible, too often people stay longer than they need to," said Sir Neil.

"If these teams work as we hope there will not be the need for so many beds."

More information on the News and Star website at


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