[P]arliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, David Mowat MP visited Morecambe Bay on 23 August to see and experience some of the innovative work ongoing as part of the Better Care Together strategy.
David Mowat MP was appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care at the Department of Health in July 2016. His brief includes adult social care, carers, community services, cancer, dementia, learning disabilities and all elements of primary care – including dentistry and pharmacy.
The day involved a packed programme visiting a variety of schemes which are transforming care for patients and public in both Barrow in Furness and Millom.
Upon his arrival at Furness General Hospital the Minister was welcomed by Dr John Howarth Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust and Professor of Primary Care at University of Cumbria), Aaron Cummins, Deputy Chief Executive, University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and Dr Paul Grout, Deputy Medical Director, University Hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
The tour began with a visit to the Emergency Department where the Minister got to learn about the telehealth scheme which aims to reduce the number of unnecessary patient journeys to the department from Millom. He got to see the high definition camera and monitor which is linked up to a similar facility in Millom which allows two- way consultations to take place. This means that health professionals in Millom can call on the expertise of senior consultants in the Emergency Department to remotely triage a patient. In addition David Mowat MP spent time with staff who are working to reduce delayed transfers of care by partnership working.
Whilst in Barrow the Minister met Dr Geoff Jolliffe, GP and Locality Lead for Furness who gave him a tour of the soon to be built Alfred Barrow Primary Care Centre where he was able to view and discuss plans for the new building.
Dr Geoff Jolliffe said: “I am extremely pleased that the Under Secretary of State got to see the Alfred Barrow site, which when developed, will make a massive difference for the people of Barrow. It means that primary, community and mental health services will be working together from one place which encourages partnership working and consequently an improved experience for patients.”
In the afternoon the Under Secretary of State travelled to Millom where he was given a tour of the Millom Community Hospital and GP surgery. He had a first-hand experience of a teleconsultation appointment using the high definition camera and monitor which is linked to the facility in the Emergency Department in Furness General Hospital.
Additionally, he got to meet representatives of the Millom Alliance community group known as the Millom Health Action Group who told him all about their community led initiatives over a working lunch.
Dr John Howarth said: “It was important for the Minister to meet the Millom Health Action Group as we are working hand in hand with the community who have driven a variety of innovative ideas and projects locally. It’s quite astonishing to see what can be achieved when health and care providers work directly with the community. He also got to see for himself, the working conditions in which the GPs are currently operating and learned about the plans for extending the GP surgery as well as the innovative ways that the health providers are working as partners with the surgery.”
Jenny Brumby, from Millom Health Action Group said: “Millom Health Action Group welcomed the Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care David Mowat MP to Millom yesterday to see the great collaboration between the NHS and the Millom Community. The new telehealth link in Millom surgery will eventually reduce the miles Millom people will have to travel for care. Our Community is thankful that their ideas are being put into practice and Millom has a very healthy future.”
Aaron Cummins said: “We were extremely pleased to welcome the Under Secretary of State to Morecambe bay and want to formally thank him for coming along to find out more about the latest developments to improve patient experience and population health outcomes across North Lancashire and South Cumbria”
Minister for Community Health and Care David Mowat MP said: “Patients and staff are seeing real benefits of the exciting new care models programme in Morecambe Bay. It’s great to see health teams working together and using technology innovatively to deliver individual care packages for patients, saving money and delivering the best quality care for patients when they need it most.”
Health Minister Avoids Visit to West Cumberland Hospital
West Cumbrian MP Jamie Reed has criticised David Mowat MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, for his decision to avoid visiting the West Cumberland Hospital during an official Government trip to the Copeland constituency.
This news comes as details have emerged that the Minister visited Millom yesterday (23rd August). Despite being in the constituency, and in spite of multiple requests to the Department for Health from Jamie Reed, for a Health Minister to visit to West Cumberland Hospital, Mr Mowat avoided doing so.
Additionally, the Minister did not inform the local MP of his visit. This is a breach of Parliamentary protocol and the Copeland MP has reported the breach to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
In a letter to Mr Mowat, Jamie Reed writes “As a Conservative Minister in the Department of Health, I can only assume that you wanted to keep your visit to West Cumbria low-key. The impact of your government’s health policies upon the health services of West and North Cumbria generally give you good reason to want to keep your visit as quiet as possible”.
He goes on to write “In Millom, a remarkable community, in partnership with dedicated and passionate health service professionals are innovating new pathways of care and service provision on a shoestring budget. We can only imagine where this innovation would now be had the Coalition government you supported not cancelled the project to build a new community hospital in the town”.
Copeland MP Jamie Reed said: “David Mowat has demonstrated a shocking disregard for our community.
“I have sent multiple letters, Parliamentary Questions and personal requests to the Secretary of State for Health and his Ministers, calling upon them to visit the West Cumberland Hospital to see for themselves the challenges faced by Health services in our community. Here in West Cumbria, patients, NHS staff, families and campaigners are united in our determination to build a local health service equipped to overcome the unique challenges that we face. However, we have been consistently let down by Government ministers who have so far refused to visit the Hospital and intervene to ensure the retention of vital 24-hour consultant led services at the hospital.
“Despite travelling to Copeland yesterday, Mr Mowat chose not to visit the West Cumberland Hospital. That is an insult to our community, to all those who rely on our consultant led services and to all those West Cumbrians whose voices must be heard by Government, but which are currently falling upon deaf ears.
“Moreover, Mr Mowat failed to inform me of his visit to Copeland and this is a clear breach of Parliamentary protocol. I will be writing to the Speaker of the House of Commons to raise this issue with him.
“Politics is about accountability not cowardice and it’s about time this government was accountable to the people of West Cumbria for the damage it’s inflicting upon our NHS.”