Wednesday, October 25, 2006



I learned today that the threat to the future of West Cumberland Hospital is even more serious than we had feared.

Anyone reading this who has any interest in the future of health services in West Cumbria should make sure you get a copy of the Whitehaven News tomorrow (26th October) as they will have more detail.

I am advised that the Whitehaven News have been told that the Primary Care Trusts for North (and West) Cumbria have brought in a firm of management consultants called "Gibson, Freak, and Edge" to prepare an analysis called a "Whole Systems Review." This analysis considers three options: the first, which keeps two acute hospitals (at Carlisle and in West Cumberland) is regarded by the consultants as "unaffordable." It appears that both the two options which they do consider affordable would involve Whitehaven losing our district general hospital, and it would not be replaced by an equivalent acute hospital in West Cumberland.

I should stress that I am describing an unconfirmed report about a confidential document which does not as yet necessarily represent the policy of the PCT. That does not mean that we can afford to ignore it. This report fits too closely with other accounts I keep hearing from a variety of sources within our local hospitals and the administration of local NHS trusts.

Even things which seem good - like the proposed new Diagnoistic unit - may have the effect of taking services away from the West Cumberland hospital and reducing it below the critical mass of staff and activities required to fuction as a District General Hospital. Services like Accident and Emergency cannot be maintained in isolation from other services like intensive care, cardiac & orthopaedics services: neither can a maternity unit.

If the people of West Cumbria want to keep decent hospital services it looks like we will have to campaign to make sure this report does not become trust policy.

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