[W]est Cumbrian MP, Jamie Reed, has today called upon the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt to commit to intervene to ensure the retention and improvement of 24 hour consultant led services at the West Cumberland Hospital.
The renewed call comes after the visit of Health Minister Phillip Dunne to the West Cumberland Hospital yesterday (6th October 2016), following years of invitations, Parliamentary Questions and questions to successive Prime Ministers, from Jamie Reed. The visit follows an intervention made by the Secretary of State into the Success Regime process in Devon to provide reassurance over maternity services in the county.
The MP has consistently argued that the Secretary of State for Health, who will ultimately decide whether or not to retain services at the Hospital, must see for himself the unique challenges faced by Health Services in West Cumbria. He has also argued that the Health Secretary must understand the immediate need for Government intervention to support the community in building a local Health economy fit for the 21st century.
Philip Dunne’s visit began with a meeting with Hospital Senior Management before a tour of the Hospital including the Accident and Emergency and Maternity units. The Minister then held a private meeting with staff, followed by a meeting at the request of the Copeland MP with hospital campaigners.
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said: “A Health Minister has now seen the West Cumberland Hospital for himself, having travelled along the unsuitable A595, and having heard from patients, staff and campaigners, and now is the time for the government to provide our community with the assurances that we need and deserve regarding the future of our 24 hour consultant led services.
“For too long, West Cumbria has been let down by Government. At her first Prime Minister’s questions, I asked Theresa May to visit the West Cumberland Hospital to see for herself the damage being caused by the policies of her government. I received no reply. Before he left office, I wrote to David Cameron asking him to make good on the promises he made to gun shot victims as they laid in their beds, not to cut services at the West Cumberland Hospital.
“I chased No.10 for a reply – none appeared. Jeremy Hunt was again invited to meet with local people at the recent public meeting I held to discuss the Success Regime proposals. Again, no reply. I have also called in Parliament for the same assurances given to North Devon regarding maternity services to be given to West Cumbria. That assurance has not yet been made. This simply cannot continue.
“During yesterday’s visit, the Minister saw for himself the remarkable work undertaken by the consultant led maternity unit at the WCH. On what was a quiet day, he saw two young mums who had recently given birth.
“Each asked to speak with the Minister. Both were admitted as low risk cases, both experienced unforeseen difficulties and the transfer to Carlisle would have resulted in fatal consequences.
“For a Health Minister to have spoken to the women, their families and medical professionals, and to have witnessed first hand the danger of removing 24 hour consultant led services from the WCH, the government must now intervene in this process and guarantee 24hr consultant lead maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital. Yesterday’s visit provided irrefutable proof that the removal of 24/7 these services from the West Cumberland Hospital will cost lives.
“The new Chancellor has this week announced that he has abandoned his predecessor’s spending plans. As he draws up his own spending priorities, I call on him to place our under funded local Health Services at the top of his list.
“Now is the time for immediate investment in the future of our local services, for the release of the funding in full for phase two of the redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital, and for a genuine commitment to tackle the local recruitment crisis which can no longer be used as an excuse to asset strip our Hospital.”