NHS Chief Responds to Request for a New Approach for North Cumbria

Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of NHS England has announced plans for a new ‘support regime’ for areas with systemic challenges in providing high quality healthcare.  The new regime will be applied to three areas; one of which is North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust.

The programme will focus on providing short term fixes to problems around the provision of high quality services whilst also developing and implementing solutions to long term systemic issues to ensure care is sustainable in the future.

This comes as local MP, Jamie Reed, has consistently called for the NHS to develop a tailored approach to the area’s unique needs.  The Copeland MP has welcomed today’s announcement as ‘the first step on the long road to ensuring healthcare in West Cumbria is both high quality and sustainable’.

It is anticipated that the new regime will involve:

  • The introduction of a Programme Director to oversee any action taken
  • An holistic diagnosis of the performance and strategic issues facing North Cumbria to inform a new tailored set of intervention 
  • A clear timeline for each phase of work 
  • New collective governance arrangements for oversight of the regime locally, regionally and nationally

Copeland MP and Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Jamie Reed MP said:

“The challenges around healthcare provision in Cumbria are unique.  The demographics and geography in the region make it unlike any other in the country and as such, we need a bespoke approach to providing care.  I have long been calling for a new approach in Cumbria and I welcome the NHS’s announcement of more support for our local services.  The issues surrounding healthcare in West and North Cumbria are well documented.  We have short term issues around the standard of care that is being provided and these are underpinned by serious long term issues such as staff recruitment and retention.

“This announcement by the NHS makes it clear that these problems can be overcome and that we can develop a new system of healthcare in our communities.  A new root-and-branch support regime for our healthcare providers is the first step on the long road to ensuring healthcare in West Cumbria is both high quality and sustainable for the long term.  This won’t be a short process, but it is essential that the work begins immediately.  Fundamentally, more resources will be needed, this cannot be done on the cheap and I’m pleased that Simon Stevens has responded to my requests as both the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health have consistently refused to intervene.


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