West Cumberland bosses told to incorporate requirements of Sellafield and new nuclear reactors in new service proposals
In a letter to Copeland MP, Jamie Reed, the Government makes clear that challenges facing communities hosting nationally significant infrastructure should be taken into account when new service proposals are being developed.
In a recent debate on health services in Manchester, Jamie Reed MP raised this issue and challenged the Minister to take on board this approach. He said:
“As a country, we need to address the needs of those communities that host nationally significant, strategic pieces of infrastructure. That might be Manchester airport or Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in my constituency. The communities that house such infrastructure require special regard to be paid to them when it comes to the configuration and supply of services at their local hospital. We should do that as a nation. It is done in other countries. I hope that the Minister will reflect on such an approach.”
In reply, the Minister, Ben Gummer, wrote to the Copeland MP stating:
“…you also commented on the need for important infrastructure sites like… Sellafield in your constituency to have access to urgent care centres.
“Department officials have made enquiries about this and I am advised that NHS England expects that the location and requirements of significant local infrastructure sites, will be taken into account by local organisations when they are developing proposals for service change. NHS England’s assurance of change proposals includes analysis of activity flows and local requirements. In your constituency, the current development of land near Sellafield is likely to attract a number of incoming workers who will need services, including healthcare. The local NHS will have to meet this need.”
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“For years I have tried to get the government to acknowledge the unique strategic nature of Our community with regard to Sellafield and the nuclear industry and our infrastructure, principally our hospital. The Sellafield trade unions and others have consistently helped with this effort.
“Recent discussions with the hospital trust in particular have shown that no regard whatsoever has been given to the presence of Sellafield in planning future hospital service provision and equally no provision has been made for the tens of thousands of people who will be coming to the area imminently in order to construct the new nuclear reactors at Sellafield.
“For the first time, this letter makes it clear that the Trust has to factor both issues into their assumptions about the future provision of services at the West Cumberland Hospital – these realities can no longer be ignored, this common sense recognition has been hard won and the Trust must not only accept this, but show where this will change its proposals.
“With the intervention from NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens, this latest instruction and consistent pressure from the public and medical professionals, the emerging picture of what must be provided at the West Cumberland Hospital is becoming clearer by the day: consultant led 24 hour A&E, consultant led maternity and paediatric services and more. Increasingly, there are no hiding places when it comes to providing and maintaining the hospital services that we need and that a growing population that hosts Europe’s largest construction site will require.”