Shadow Health Secretary visits WCH
During the planning for the election campaign I was told that we could expect three Conservative font bench visits to the Copeland constituency, and asked who we would like and where in the constituency we should take them. Top of the list in my reply was for a Shadow health spokesman to visit West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, and I was delighted when the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, took up this request and came to WCH on Friday.
It was an interesting and useful visit, and I am grateful both to Andrew for coming to support our local hospital and to the management and staff who took time to meet us and show us round.
One of the key Conservative policies in this election is cleaner hospitals to reduce the threat of MRSA and other hospital acquired infections. West Cumberland has one of the better records in this area, and is one of the hospitals where the number of hospital acquired infections is falling: as we went round we saw some of the policies we hope to apply more generally were already in place.
Our visit covered some areas which had already been refurbished and some which had not - the difference was stunning and this is something which should be taken into account in the coming option appraisal.
We discussed the number of hospital beds which are needed in West Cumbria - at the moment there is considerable pressure on beds due to a 15% rise in cases coming to the hospital. If this situation persists it will have to be taken into account in the option appraisal.
One of the questions Andrew asked was how the working time directive is affecting the hospital. and we were pleased to be told that although it has had to taken into account in managing the time of doctors, nurses and other staff, West Cumberland Hospital is coping very well with this legislation. This was good nes in itself, and also because the working time directive was put forward last year as one of the factors which might make it dificult to keep two district general hospitals in North Cumbria.
Definately one of the high points of the campaign so far.