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People will die’ – Council Leader calls for action on health services

25 September 2013

Council leaders are calling for action to stop the ‘haemorrhaging of health services’ from West Cumbria.

Councillor Alan Smith, Leader of Allerdale Borough Council, called an urgent meeting last week with MPs Jamie Reed and Tony Cunningham to demand immediate action to stop more services being migrated to Carlisle and beyond. He is also calling for confirmation of whether a proposed merger with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust will go ahead. Cllr Smith wants to recruit more experienced staff to allow services to remain in the west of the county, and bring more hospital facilities to Maryport and Millom to support Whitehaven Hospital.

Cllr Smith said: “The provision of health services in West Cumbria simply doesn’t make the grade. We are haemorrhaging services, with operations and key departments being pushed to other areas. I fear we are sleep walking into a dark place where health services will be non-existent and Carlisle Hospital will crack under the strain. What’s going to happen when Winter arrives? People are going to die.

“We need to preserve more services, we need more consultants, and we need the Government to invest in hospital facilities in West Cumbria. We should be focusing our health services in a smaller geographical area – not shipping patients across this vast county or even across the country for the most basic of care.

“The Government needs to take action and tell us what their priorities are and what provision they are going to make before people lose their lives as a result of the destruction of the NHS on this coast.”

Cllr Smith says his meeting with the MPs was reassuring because they are all united in their efforts to improve the situation – but he fears things are not happening quickly enough. He is hopeful that a ‘health summit’, being organised by Jamie Reed on 30 September will help show the strength of feeling in the county.

Cllr Smith added: “It will be the perfect opportunity for us to get updates from those in the know about this proposed merger, but surely with all that knowledge and expertise in one room, we can come up with ideas for the future which will help keep vital healthcare services closer to home?”

Councillor Carni McCarron Holmes, Allerdale Borough Council’s portfolio holder for health, made a motion to the full Council in the Summer which expressed grave concern about health services and asked the Government to instigate extra initiatives to support West Cumbria. A letter was sent to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in July requesting a meeting – but the Council has still not received a reply.

Cllr McCarron Holmes added: “There was a Government pledge to bring health services ‘closer to home’ but the exact opposite is happening here. We need investment and expansion of cottage hospitals in Maryport and Millom, as we have seen in Cockermouth, Keswick and Workington, to make that a reality.”

 

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Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ