24th October 2014
“Let local medical staff speak out without fear” – Jamie Reed
Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister Jamie Reed has responded to today’s publication of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust future clinical options appraisal.
“Today’s publication of the future clinical options appraisal by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust should not come as a surprise to anyone.
“Unfortunately, public trust in the NCUHT has collapsed over recent months. A meeting in Whitehaven witnessed Trust representatives assuring 4,000 people that no decisions had been made, yet today’s document admits that service reconfiguration plans have been ongoing since early this year. Over the course of this period, a series of Freedom of Information requests to the NCUHT from me and others have been consistently ignored.
“Most recently, the Trust, in response to a still unanswered open letter from me regarding maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital denied that any internal proposals had been made to remove consultant led maternity services from the hospital. However, today’s future clinical options appraisal contains such a proposal. This is a poor reflection upon the standards of honesty and transparency demonstrated by NCUHT and represents a contemptuous regard for patients, the public and medical professionals right across North and West Cumbria.
“Everybody wants to see better clinical standards and better outcomes for patients. Agreement on how this should be achieved is, however, always a matter for debate. In addition, I have always maintained that the Keogh review should not be used as a smokescreen for withdrawing services from the WCH. My position is clear; where services at the West Cumberland Hospital require improvement, these should be improved, not removed. My fear remains that the ongoing Trust acquisition process is driving the removal of services on financial grounds, not clinical grounds as the acquisition cannot be completed until financial stability is achieved. The easiest way to achieve financial stability is to provide fewer services.
“With this in mind, I have today written to Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, Sir Mike Richards and Simon Stevens seeking a resolution to these ongoing issues.
“In addition, I will now Chair a series of meetings with Healthwatch, the CCG, NCUHT, local WCH campaigners and others to assess the future clinical options appraisal and to illustrate what each option will mean for patients, the public and medical professionals going forward. This group will also consider the type of hospital and community medical services that will need to be provided in the context of population growth and the influx of thousands of new workers into West Cumbria to build new nuclear reactors at Moorside. It’s critically important to understand that the CCG will call the shots with regard to services at the WCH – not NCUHT – and this document appears to be an attempt to bounce the CCG. This bullying tactic will not work.
“The success of this process will be helped by NCUHT agreeing to a staff amnesty on whistleblowing. I am repeatedly contacted by medical staff from Whitehaven and Carlisle who express concerns but who are afraid to speak out with regard to decisions made by the Trust. This cannot continue. Local medical staff must be allowed to speak out without fear of retribution from the Trust.
“The Prime Minister refused to confirm a national review of maternity services that will now involve every hospital in the country when I asked him to do so at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, today’s clinical options appraisal confirms that this is taking place.
“Finally, the Trust should be in no doubt that neither I, or the community I represent, will rest until we get the hospital services we deserve and need. We are faced with a once in a life time opportunity with the new West Cumberland Hospital to develop a model of healthcare that suits our unique needs. We must not miss this opportunity.”