Copeland MP challenges Government on Hospital Future

22nd October 2014
Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed has challenged the Government to ensure local voices are heard following the debate on the future of services at West Cumberland Hospital. 
At Prime Minister’s Question Time, Jamie Reed asked the Prime Minister to come clean about a national review into maternity services.  This is following 10-year old Maddy Snell’s letter to the Prime Minister asking about local services at the West Cumberland Hospital.
Mr Reed asked the Prime Minister to confirm that that all maternity services in England were subject to a national review following reports from the Care Quality Commission.  The Prime Minister did not answer the question.
This follows on from a debate on the future of West Cumberland Hospital.  The debate took place on Monday 20th October and was attended by Jamie Reed MP along with Workington MP, Sir Tony Cunningham.  Due to Jamie Reed’s role as a Shadow Health Minister, the Minister responding for the Government, Dr Dan Poulter, tried to prevent Mr Reed from speaking in the debate.  Due to pressure from local hospital campaigners, Sir Tony Cunningham and parliamentary officials, the Minister backed down and Mr Reed spoke in the debate.
Mr Reed asked a number of questions that the Minister failed to address.  Following this, Mr Reed has written to the Minister to insist that the Government now provides answers to the concerns raised by West Cumbrians about the future of the West Cumberland Hospital.
Jamie Reed MP said:
“The Government clearly doesn’t want to listen to the concerns of the people of West Cumbria.  Firstly, they tried to prevent me from speaking in a debate that impacts upon every one of my constituents and then when they backed down on that, they failed to answer any of my questions. On top of this, the Prime Minister also refused to answer my straightforward question about maternity services at PMQs. This will not go unnoticed by my constituents and will continue to seek answers. 
“West Cumbrians rely on the West Cumberland Hospital.  There are fundamental questions about the NHS in West Cumbria and the Government must not continue to ignore these.  The Prime Minister tries to claim that the Government have funded the new hospital buildings, but that was funding secured under the last Labour Government which David Cameron scrapped before being forced to reinstate. People won’t be taken in by the Prime Minister’s evasions and spin.

“People want to be involved in the plans for how their services look and work in the future, but the Trust is dragging its feet and the Government doesn’t want to know.  It is unacceptable.  The Government must intervene to ensure that local voices are listened to.”

Transcript of today’s Prime Minister’s Question Time exchange:
Jamie Reed
Mr Speaker, my ten year old constituent, Maddy Snell, was disappointed with the response she received from the Prime Minister regarding the West Cumberland Hospital, in England, telling the BBC that he didn’t answer her questions. Now, I’m sure members on all sides of the House can relate to Maddy’s frustration there. Before the last General Election, the Prime Minister promised a ‘bare-knuckle fight’ to protect maternity services that has never materialised. Will he confirm today that every maternity service unit in every hospital in England is now subject to a national review?
Prime Minister
What I want to see is district general hospitals with maternity services within them. And if we look at the West Cumberland Hospital, we have contributed £70m to the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital, together with the £11m community hospital in Cockermouth, which has been opened to provide further services. And unlike in Wales, the amount of money going into West Cumberland is going up, and that should be enough to provide good maternity services.
Full text of the letter sent to Dr Dan Poulter MP following the adjournment debate:

Dear Dr Poulter,
Adjournment Debate on Future of West Cumberland Hospital
In the adjournment debate on Monday 20th October 2014, I outlined the strength of feeling of my constituents regarding the uncertainty of services at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.  Multiple public events such as marches and public meetings have attracted thousands of people wanting to express their concerns and fight for the services that they rely on.
I asked a number of questions in the debate that you were either unable to answer or did not address.  I appreciate time is limited in an adjournment debate, but my constituents and I would be grateful if you were able to provide a full response to the points raised below; I made this point during the debate.  For your ease and reference, I have provided the column reference from the official report:
Column 728
Firstly, I asked you to intervene to ensure that the Trust undertake meaningful public engagement rather than making decisions behind closed doors.  I asked if you would commit to writing to North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust to raise this matter.  Are you able to give my constituents an assurance that you will raise the matter of public engagement with the Trust?
I then spoke regarding the ongoing acquisition process and asked if you would agree to stop any further progress of the acquisition unless a comprehensive public engagement on the future of services provided by the West Cumberland Hospital is undertaken prior to the acquisition.  Will you agree to this?
Column 730
On the specific issue of maternity services, the footnotes of a press release from the Care Quality Commission revealed that there would be a nationwide maternity services review.  I asked if you can confirm this will take place and if so, can you outline the timetable?
I raised the issue of openness and candour with regard to the Trust, with specific reference to a series of request for information.  No response has been forthcoming and I asked if you were able to write to the Trust to express the need for openness.  Will you do this?
An ongoing issue at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, as highlighted by Sir Bruce Keogh’s report and various CQC reports, is that of staffing and recruitment.  My request on this issue was two-fold.  Firstly, will you commit to investigate recruitment practices and any underlying issues at the Trust and secondly, will you commit to assist with recruitment and improve practices?
Column 733
My final question came during an intervention.  I asked if you could explain why mortality rates at the Trust rose sharply after the summer of 2010.  During the debate, you said that you didn’t have the local knowledge to hand in order to understand what happened.  Will you now examine the situation in order to provide an answer?
I am extremely grateful to you for allowing me to speak in this debate.  The issue is very important to my constituents and they deserve the answers to these questions.
I look forward to your reply.
Jamie Reed
Member of Parliament for Copeland
Shadow Health Minister

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