Jamie Reed MP has warned Government ministers of the outrage that will be felt by West Cumbrians’ if the Success Regime recommends the withdrawal of 24 hour consultant led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital.
He planned to share his comments with the House of Commons Chamber as part of an Opposition Day Debate on NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Unfortunately, Mr Reed was not called by the Speaker on this occasion due to constraints on parliamentary time.
The Copeland MP sought to draw attention to the strength of feeling within the community regarding the need for 24 hour consultant led services to be among the consultation options the Success Regime presents.
Mr Reed has used this opportunity to, once again, invite Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt to the constituency. He has written to Mr Hunt to ask him to attend the public meeting with the Success Regime next Wednesday, which falls during parliamentary recess.
Unfortunately, the Government voted against the motion to ensure Sustainability and Transformation Plans would be published and followed by an adequate consultation period with the public and practitioners.
In his speech, Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“In a few weeks’ time the Success Regime will publish its consultation document with regard to the health service in north, west and east Cumbria.
The suggestion is that this consultation will seek to remove consultant led maternity services from the West Cumberland hospital in Whitehaven and centralize this service 42 miles away in Carlisle at the end of one of the worst roads in the country.
Today, we’ve heard that the process leading to this has been a hidden Sustainability and Transformation Plan.
There will be outrage in Cumbria. Fury. No wonder Ministers refuse to visit”.
You can read the full text of Jamie’s speech below:
It’s important to recognise the motion before us today. My constituents will know little if anything of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan in Cumbria – they will know of the Success Regime process and they will be concerned to discover that, according to the Minister today – the Success Regime has been am Sustainability and Transformation Plan in disguise all along.
The motion states that this House notes with concern that NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans are expected to lead to significant cuts or changes to frontline services; believes that the process agreed by the Government in December 2015 lacks transparency and the timeline announced by NHS England is insufficient to finalise such a major restructure of the NHS; further believes that the timetable does not allow for adequate public or Parliamentary engagement in the formulation of theplans; and calls on the Government to publish the Plans and to provide an adequate consultation period for the public and practitioners to respond.
How could anyone disagree with the motion? I say to colleagues on all sides of the House, if you know how much your constituents care about the NHS and about their local services, vote for the motion and show the people who sent you here the courtesy that they deserve: this is their NHS and they deserve to know what is going on with it.
With regard to my own community : it’s a case of ‘Here we go again.’
Time is limited so I want to focus upon a specific point of the utmost concern to everyone in my constituency: services at the West Cumberland Hospital and the future of consultant led maternity services in particular.
In a few weeks’ time the Success Regime will publish its consultation document with regard to the health service in north, west and east Cumbria. The suggestion is that this consultation will seek to remove consultant led maternity services from the west Cumberland hospital in Whitehaven and centralise this service 42 miles away in Carlisle at a less than adequate hospital at the end of one of the worst roads in the country. Today, we’ve heard that the process leading to this has been a hidden STP.
When the Minister winds up the debate, can he tell the house how many consultant led maternity units are set to close as a result of the STP process and where these units are?
There will be outrage in Cumbria. Fury. No wonder Ministers refuse to visit.
The notion that my community should be prepared to allow consultant led maternity services to leave the west cumberland hospital has never been more unacceptable. Yet it now appears as if the forthcoming consultation on the Success Regime proposals will not even consult on retaining the consultant led option.
We’ve been here before. The last time the Trust sought to remove consultant led maternity services, a phenomenal community campaign aided in part by health ministers who were prepared to listen to the case my community made, ensured that common sense prevailed. We retained our community hospitals and their beds, too. And wiped out the debts. What a positive difference a Labour government makes to the lives of the people I represent, Mr Deputy Speaker.
There will now be an elaborate dance and I’m glad that Ministers are able to listen to this today. Proposals will be made and consulted upon by the Success Regime. Those proposals will be put to the public. The public will likely reject some or all of those proposals. – I will urge everyone to reject any proposal that does not provide consultant led maternity services – then Cumbria County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee will ‘call in’ the consultation and it will be referred – eventually – to the Secretary of State for Health to make the final decision with regard to the proposals.
This is why I’ve so often sought to bring the Health Secretary to our community – so that he can see for himself what the consequences of the decision that he will have to make will be. I’ve again invited him to next week’s meeting in my constituency to discuss these issues and listen to my constituents. Parliament is in recess at the same time and I hope he will be able to finally show my constituents some courtesy.
Consultant led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital are non negotiable. I’ve made this case for years. It’s what my community, our families, our expectant mothers, their partners and their families want and need. The NHS is in dire straits all over the country. This week the worst waiting times ever have been revealed. Amazing people are working in incredibly difficult circumstances to try and avoid crisis, but the government isn’t listening and it isn’t acting on the concerns put to it. I’ve told Ministers from the beginning that consultant led services are non-negotiable and it is at their door that this decision will land. Everyone recognises the difficulties facing the NHS; they were foreseen. My community cannot be expected pay the price for the government’s failure to plan and recruit – that is simply unjust. We know what we need and we know why we need it. Common sense and justice must prevail and we need to retain consultant led maternity services in West Cumbria.
Consultant led services must be amongst the consultation options, it’s impossible to expect the community to have any faith in an already faltering process if they are not.
Finally, in the week that David Cameron quit politics for good, I want to talk about the importace of honesty with regard to changes in the NHS – it’s why the motion before us is so important. As Prime Minister, David Cameron promised no more ‘top down’ NHS reorganisations and to protect smaller hospitals. He promised a bare knuckled fight that never materialized. Both were lies. In June 2010, during the darkest hour of my community, I invited David Cameron to the West Cumberland Hospital. I had been discharged days earlier having just had my life saved by that hospital having presented with acute diabetic ketoacidosis. I was with David Cameron at the West Cumberland Hospital when he kneeled by the bedsides of gun shot victims and told them that services would be retained at the hospital.
At that time and over the years that have followed, I was struck my two thoughts. First of all, the sheer admiration I will always have for that constituent who had no regard for herself or her condition but , faced with the Prime Minister wanted to make the case for our community’s hospital services. That sums my community up. Second, I will never forget what David Cameron said and the sickening contrast between his words and his actions. People will draw their own conclusions; but I can think of no more accurate description of a calculated betrayal than this.
Success Regime, Sustainability & Transformation Plan, reconfiguration: call it what you will. My community will fight, fight and fight again for the hospital services they need, want and deserve.