North Cumbria’s hospitals set to ‘fall over’ as junior doctors are removed from WCH

25th March 2014

Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed has expressed fears for the future of hospital services in Whitehaven and Carlisle as a result of junior doctors being removed from the West Cumberland Hospital. 
He said: 
“I was recently informed by a senior local clinician that the six trainee doctors at the West Cumberland Hospital would be removed – three at the beginning of April and three at the beginning of August. The clinician claimed that if this situation is not addressed immediately, then the delivery of acute hospital services in Carlisle and Whitehaven would be compromised and that both would ‘fall over’.
“As a result of this, I wrote to the Chief Executive of the North Cumbria Hospitals Trust with a series of questions and Freedom of Information requests relating to these moves and what this will mean for services in Whitehaven and Carlisle. Today’s announcement from the Trust is a partial response to my questions, but much more information needs to be made publicly available.
“The letter was copied to Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS, who had not been made aware of these developments. This is a profound cause for concern.
“The staff in our hospitals are working incredibly hard to provide the best service to patients they possibly can. This is usually a very good service and they deserve our thanks and respect. Short-staffing remains a huge problem and is affecting patient care and repeated letters from me to Jeremy Hunt have yet to produce any engagement from the government with regard to these serious issues.
“Government policy has plunged our hospitals into chaos and it is rumoured that the acquisition of the local trust by the Northumbria Acute Hospitals Trust is set to be finalized this summer. Questions must now be asked about the acquisition. The prolonged nature of it is the fault of government, not either trust in question, but the effect of this process has not stabilized our local hospitals. There is total confusion about what services will be provided at which hospitals and this is making the recruitment and retention of staff increasingly difficult. This then creates a downward spiral.
“The new West Cumberland Hospital should be a turning point for our local health services. It’s an opportunity to develop a model of care that is precisely suited to our local needs, but ongoing uncertainty over services is preventing this. We need clarity over hospital services, we need to see the implementation of ‘Closer to Home’ and we need this clarity before the acquisition is completed.”
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