Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Save our Hospitals - the plot thickens

The following parliamentary question was asked at the same time that the Whitehaven News was putting together a story based on information from a source inside the North Cumbria NHS, that a report for a "Whole service review" recommends that the keeping two acute hospitals in North Cumbria is "unaffordable."

Question from Jamie Reed (Copeland, Labour)

"To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made on the provision of a new acute hospital in Whitehaven."

Reply from Rosie Winterton (Minister of State, Department of Health)

"North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is currently developing proposals for a new acute hospital in Whitehaven in the context of the whole system review of health services in Cumbria. The North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust expects to carry out public consultation on the new hospital early in 2007."

So we have two apparently diametrically opposed statements coming out on the same day, though both refer to the "Whole Systems Review."

However, one appears to be based on information from the PCT and the other from the Acute Services trust. Is not possible that the PCT has not yet shared the report with the Acute Services Trust ?

There are three possible explanations. The first that the information given to the local newpaper by a source inside the local NHS is wrong. But what would be the point. The second is that Rosie Winterton's information came from the Acute Services Trust and those who supplied it were not aware of the management consultant's report which the story in tomorrow's Whitehaven News will describe.

Look again at the exact wording of the parliamentary answer and you can see a third possible explanation: the answer appears to suggest that a new acute hospital is on the cards, but how categorical is it? Could it be that we are seeing just another dose of spin?

I don't think we can take anything for granted.

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