Friday, November 24, 2017

WCH Maternity call-in result

The Independnt Reconfiguration Panel which considered the call-in on maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital has confirmed the Success Regime/CCG decision which means that a consultant-led service will continue to be provided for at least another year but its continuation beyond that is dependent on recruitment and retention issues being resolved.

As someone who is convinced that consultant-led maternity needs to be maintained at WCH and that the recruitment issues can and will be solved I am pleased that this will continue for now but disappointed that the question mark has been left, partiocularly as 12 months seems to me an unreasonably short period for the trial.

But I believe that this challenge must, can and will be met.

Stephen Childs,  Chief Executive at NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said:

"We are very grateful to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for the careful consideration they have given this issue. We have always been very clear that we are wholly committed to delivering Option 1 – which includes consultant-led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital, if they are safe and sustainable. This review endorses the work we are doing to secure that.

We understand there may be some disappointment in the community with this decision, but we would absolutely urge everyone who cares about their community to work with us to make services at West Cumberland Hospital a sustainable success.

Our commitment to co-produce future services is already bringing together members of the community, NHS and care staff, as well as health and social care leaders. By working together positively we believe we can meet the many challenges ahead, the greatest of which remains the recruitment of medical and nursing professionals.

We heard very clearly through the consultation that the NHS does not have all the answers, and we are convinced that the only way to secure these services in west Cumbria for the future is by working positively and constructively together.”

Stephen Eames, Chief Executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust added:

"I would like to thank the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for their scrutiny of this very difficult decision. Our prime concern remains with the safety of our services for women and children across west, north & east Cumbria and we are absolutely committed to protecting patient safety and the quality of our services.

The IRP recognises the work we have been doing to-date in order to sustain consultant-led services at West Cumberland Hospital as well as acknowledging the challenges we are facing.

I understand that members of staff and our community may feel disappointed today but I would like to reiterate our commitment to both delivering Option 1 and to the future of West Cumberland Hospital. We are continuing to focus on recruiting more permanent medical and nursing staff to the Trust with a range of initiatives being undertaken. 

We also recently shared exciting plans for the further redevelopment of the hospital and I would like us all to work together to secure a very positive future for health and care services in West Cumbria.”
There will be, and should be, some strong opinions expressed about this at the next meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee in December. I welcome the statements by the local NHS to continue to provide consultant-led maternity services at WCH if they are safe and sustainable and we need to work with them to make sure that those serviecs are safe and sustainable and seen to be so.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

£46 million new look for West Cumberland Hospital

Plans showing how West Cumberland Hospital will look after another £46 million of investment have been unveiled this week.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health announced that north, west and east Cumbria was in line for up to £100m of investment, including completion of the WCH refurbishment & rebuild project, and a new cancer centre at Carlisle.

Cumbria's NHS organisations have since been working on detailed business cases, which will determine exactly how much money is released..

Designs and information about the current plans for the West Cumberland Hospital scheme have now been released and can be seen in today's Whitehaven News and on the Times and Star website here. It is estimated that this scheme will involve £46 million of further new investment in West Cumberland hospital above and beyond the extensive building programme which opened in 2015.

Cumbria NHS leaders say the completed hospital will be the first of its kind nationally, becoming an "exemplar" for the wider NHS.

The next stage of investment in WCH, Phase two of the overall scheme, estimated to cost £33m, will include renal, chemotherapy, therapies, pre-assessment, consultant-led maternity (obstetrics), gynaecology, a midwife-led maternity unit and office space.

Phase three will create a new build academic campus, in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), at an estimated costof  £13m.

West Cumbrian GP John Howarth, who is joint deputy chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said that after  years of community concern about the future of the hospital, which was in special measures and undergoing a major review of services, things are now changing for the better.

Dr Howarth added that the investment shows national confidence in the West Cumberland Hospital and that the newly-revamped hospital will be a real asset to the area, while the addition of the medical school will help solve long-standing recruitment problems for the long term.

“It’s really exciting. The important message is that we have two new phases of investment coming to the West Cumberland Hospital."

“We (north, west and east Cumbria) have got more than a quarter of all the national capital available to the NHS," he said.

“That shows a real transformation in national confidence. We have a rapidly evolving health system, which has given the confidence to significantly invest in us."

Once approved, it is expected that work will start on phases two and three late next year, to be complete by 2020. These two  phases will run alongside each other.

Dr Howarth stressed that it is not just about the physical buildings, but part of a unique wider plan.

“We are looking at how we make the West Cumberland Hospital the hub of an integrated care system, for Copeland and Allerdale, connecting the acute hospital with all of its services with primary care and community services," he said.

Dr Howarth added that the NHS in Cumbria is leading the way nationally on what he calls “population health”.

“What we have to begin to do is go beyond just delivering services, to have an ambition of improving overall health of the population.

“We therefore want to design a hospital that goes beyond delivering services, but contributes to the wider health and wellbeing of the communities it serves," he explained.

He stressed that Cumbria's NHS trusts are still committed to bed-based care where appropriate, with phase two providing top of the range facilities for patients who need acute care.

Dr Howarth, who is also a professor of primary care at Uclan medical school, believes that the new teaching facilities will also make a major contribution to tackling recruitment and retention problems, where possible recruiting students from Cumbrian schools who want to train and stay to practice in the area.

"I'm really optimistic. These courses are very attractive to students. One of the historic weaknesses we have had, particularly in west Cumbria, is that we have not had our own medical students,"

he said.

“Having our own campus in Whitehaven, for me as a doctor, is game-changing. It will take some years to really have an impact but in the medium to long term it will change our ability to train and retain our own doctors. For me, as a local doctor who has worked all my career here, it’s the most exciting development of that time."

Dr Howarth said overall he feels very positive about the future of the West Cumberland Hospital.

"My first job in the NHS was at the West Cumberland Hospital, in 1983, so this is fantastic to see," he said.

"I think we are going to end up with one of the best facilities in the country, here in west Cumbria.

"Our ambitions for the West Cumberland Hospital are unique. We want to go further than other places have gone.

"There will obviously be bigger hospitals in the country, but as a hospital within a fully integrated health and care system - nobody else has done that. West Cumbria is going to be a national exemplar."

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, added: “The new development plans for West Cumberland Hospital which includes a health village and education facility is exciting news and a positive step in the right direction to implementing a fully integrated health and care system.”