Copeland MP writes to Hospital Trust re: prejudicing of maternity service review

Copeland MP and Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed, has today written to Ann Farrar, Chief Executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust (NCUHT), regarding the independent review of maternity services at NCUHT and the prejudicing of this review by Dr Jeremy Rushmer, the Trust’s medical director.

Dear Ann,
I’m writing to you with regard to the independent review of maternity services and the prejudicing of this review by Dr Jeremy Rushmer, the Trust’s medical director.
Dr Rushmer’s public description of the centralisation of consultant-led maternity services at the Cumberland Infirmary as an “attractive option”, as well as the ludicrous suggestion of moving maternity services from Whitehaven to Cockermouth, represent a clear effort to prejudice the outcome of this allegedly independent review of maternity services.
In attempting to force a false, manufactured compromise regarding service provision at the West Cumberland Hospital, NCUHT appears determined to erode what little faith the community still has left in it. Sadly, NCUHT has placed itself in a dangerous and regrettably avoidable position.
Dr Rushmer’s description of centralisation at Carlisle as an “attractive option” (clearly on behalf of the NCUHT) has prejudiced the maternity review in a fundamental way – particularly as other Trust employees with contrary views are forbidden from speaking publicly.
NCUHT has an obligation to demonstrate that it hasn’t rigged the deck with regard to its decision-making processes; tragically, the approach illustrated above has only served to give the opposite view and it is almost impossible for the public to now have any faith with regard to the standards of honesty, openness and transparency espoused by the Trust.
To address this, NCUHT should commit to four actions without delay:
·         Publicly announce a staff amnesty so that medics can speak out without fear of retribution
·         Postpone the maternity services review
·         Commit to a service user review of maternity services (lay-review)
·         Explain why, given the prejudicial nature of his interventions, Dr Rushmer should continue as Medical Director
When asked to respond to these requests by the local media, NCUHT refused to do so, instead alleging that these legitimate questions represented “personal attack and intimidation”. This is a depressingly telling response. It is inexplicable to me that an organisation with a dedicated team of public relations professionals should fail to answer the basic questions asked, choosing instead to manufacture a smokescreen regarding “personal attack and intimidation” when nothing of the sort has taken place. This is a deliberately disingenuous response from NCUHT and will be seen as such by the public. I now ask for NCUHT to withdraw these comments and answer the questions I have raised.
The suspicion and distrust caused by this corporate behavior means that it is unlikely that NCUHT will be able to secure support from medical professionals and the public with regard to decisions relating to the future configuration of services at both hospital sites across North Cumbria.
It never had to be this way; these are the results of the choices that NCUHT has made. Better engagement might yet secure better outcomes.
I await your response to the points raised.
Yours faithfully,

Jamie Reed MP
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