Jamie Reed MP: “My Community Will Never Accept, Nor Forgive, Removal of Local Health Services”

West Cumbrian MP Jamie RNHS Spending Speecheed has spoken out in Parliament, calling on Government to fulfil its responsibility to communities in West Cumbria by providing a truly National Health Service.

Jamie Reed set out the challenges faced by the NHS in the area and expressed his concern about reports that the ongoing Success Regime are considering the removal of maternity services from the West Cumberland Hospital. The West Cumbrian MP made clear that neither he, nor his community will accept the Success Regime if it transpires to be a “Trojan Horse”, instated by Government to “slash budgets and cut services”.

This news comes shortly after the Health Secretary cancelled his meeting with local Health campaigners at short notice. The Copeland MP explained that “without visiting the [West Cumberland and Community Hospitals], experiencing the transport inadequacies, and seeing the vital work of consultant led Accident and Emergency, and Maternity services [at the West Cumberland Hospital], the Health Secretary cannot and does not understand the necessity of his immediate intervention in our troubled health economy”.

Jamie Reed concluded his speech by calling upon Government to “ensure the release of funding for phase two of the redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital, a commitment to the continuation of consultant led services, including Accident and Emergency, and Maternity, to be retained and improved at the Hospital. We also require a commitment to the retention of beds at our community hospitals.”

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said:

“Now is the time for Government to fulfill their responsibility to provide a truly National Health Service. Decisions should always be taken based on the safety of local people, and never about driving down NHS budgets.

“My community needs and deserves no less than immediate intervention to ensure the release of funding for phase two of the redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital, a commitment to the continuation of consultant led services, including Accident and Emergency, and Maternity, to be retained and improved at the Hospital. We also require a commitment to the retention of beds at our community hospitals in Millom and Keswick.

“Our community is determined to build a health economy to overcome the unique challenges that we face. What we are missing is the immediate commitment, support and investment from Government that we require.

“Brexit campaigners in the Government, especially those who aspire to be not just the next leader of the Conservative party but the next leader of our country, have a particular responsibility to stand before the House and the country, and explain to all the people whom they knowingly deceived why they did it, where the money is coming from, and what they are going to do about it.”

Speech by Jamie Reed MP (check against delivery):

The Cumbrian health economy is experiencing the most prolonged period of intense pressure, strain and threat that it has ever faced.

Despite the dedicated and incredible efforts of local NHS staff in my constituency, I see health inequalities on a daily basis, and many of my constituents experience profound access challenges to health services in my constituency and elsewhere across Cumbria, caused in part by our inadequate transport infrastructure, but also by a clearly insufficient profile of investment in local services. So far, I am afraid to say, my calls for improvement have fallen upon deaf ears.

In north and west as well as east Cumbria, we are currently subject to the ongoing success regime process. Funding for the important second phase of the West Cumberland hospital has not yet been released by the Government, and the communities I represent are gravely concerned about the uncertain future facing our local health services, including beds not just at the West Cumberland, but at our local community hospitals in Keswick, Millom, Maryport and elsewhere—and that is before we even consider the profound challenges to primary care, too.

In spite of the challenges that we face and the strength of feeling in my constituency, the Health Secretary, who is no longer in his place, has paid not one visit to the West Cumberland hospital, or any of our community hospitals on whose behalf I speak tonight, in the four years in which he has held his position. Moreover, he has refused my invitation to visit West Cumbria to see for himself the unique challenges that we face in our part of the world. Without visiting the hospital, experiencing the transport inadequacies and seeing the vital work of consultant-led accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric services that the West Cumberland hospital provides, the Health Secretary cannot and does not understand the necessity for his immediate intervention in our troubled health economy.

Most recently, owing to the fact that the Health Secretary would not come to us, my constituents and I—health campaigners from across the piece—decided to go to him. West Cumbrian health campaigners, including Mike Bulman, Mahesh Dhebar, Rachel Holliday, Siobhan Gearing and the fantastic Pamela McGowan from the News & Star newspaper, planned to make a 700 mile round trip to London to meet the Health Secretary, to outline the challenges that our health economy faces and to put our case to him. However, at short notice, but coincidentally on the day after he announced his ambition to stand as leader of the Conservative party, the Health Secretary cancelled the meeting. The decision to cancel that meeting was seen by my community as the calculated insult that I am afraid it surely was.

I led the local campaigners instead to the Department of Health to meet the gracious and approachable Under-Secretary responsible for care quality—the Minister in his place today. The delegation handed to him a confidential document containing the cases given to local campaigners by local mothers about babies who were likely to have suffered fatalities—and the mothers maternal fatalities, too—if consultant-led maternity services had been unavailable at the West Cumberland hospital in Whitehaven. The Government are well aware that consultant-led maternity services at that hospital are non-negotiable and absolutely essential—whatever the successor regime that comes forward in the immediate future. Any other option would compromise the safety of local mothers and their babies.

It is clear to me, to my community and to Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS, who visited my constituency only a few months ago, that consultant-led services must be retained and improved at West Cumberland hospital. Removing those services from Whitehaven would be dangerous—

As I was saying, the removal of those consultant-led maternity services would actively undermine the principle of a truly national health service, and will never be accepted by me or by my community. I am therefore deeply concerned by a recent report, based on a leaked e-mail, which suggests that the Success Regime is indeed considering the removal of maternity services from Whitehaven as one of the options on which it wishes to consult. That is appalling. If the Success Regime turns out to be a Trojan horse initiated by the Government to slash budgets and remove services, I have just one message to send to the Government today: my community will never accept that, and cannot and will never forgive it.

There is no doubt that consultant-led maternity services are what west Cumbrian women and their families need, want and deserve. Removing those services from the remotest constituency from Westminster in England, in terms of accessibility, would be not only unsafe, but without precedent in our country. It is clear that this move is being driven by the Government’s determination to cut costs, and not by the safety of mothers and babies.

My community now calls on the Government and those responsible for the Success Regime to make the immediate, clear and unequivocal commitment to consultant-led maternity services at West Cumberland hospital—and other services—that communities in west Cumbria deserve. Without a clear commitment to our consultant-led services, including a fully functioning consultant-led maternity service at West Cumberland hospital, it will be impossible for us to support the work of the Success Regime in the future.

I have since urged the entire community of west Cumbria to join me, and our local campaigners, in fighting any proposals to remove essential consultant-led services from West Cumberland hospital. We are a community of campaigners, patients, families and NHS staff, united in our commitment to our local national health service, and we are determined to build a 21st century health economy, equipped to overcome the challenges that we face in my incredibly rural constituency. We will not allow the Government, by any means, to strip away our services, leaving a threadbare health service, unfit for purpose, to future generations in the community of west Cumbria. My community is determined; what we are missing is the immediate commitment, support and investment from the Government that we so clearly require.

Just two weeks ago the country voted to leave the European Union, and I regret that. Many of those voters, including a large number of my constituents, voted on the basis of their belief that a Brexit vote would result in an extra £350 million per week for the NHS. Since that vote, prominent members of the “leave” campaign have been quick to renege on a key promise that swung so many people behind their prospectus. As we observe the Conservative leadership contest, it appears likely that those prominent campaigners will wash their hands of the responsibility of delivering on the commitments that they made. In communities like mine, where people voted in the belief that their vote would help to fund the investments that we need in our health services, that is an unforgivable betrayal.

Now is the time for the Government to fulfil their responsibility to provide a truly national health service. My community needs and deserves no less than an immediate intervention to ensure the release of funding for the second phase of the redevelopment of West Cumberland hospital and a commitment to the retention and improvement of consultant-led services, including accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric services. We also require a commitment to the retention of beds at our community hospitals. Brexit campaigners in the Government, especially those who aspire to be not just the next leader of the Conservative party but the next leader of our country, have a particular responsibility to stand before the House and the country, and explain to all the people whom they knowingly deceived why they did it, where the money is coming from, and what they are going to do about it.

 

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