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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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1,000 back call for consultation into West Cumberland surgery decision

More than 1,000 people have backed calls for a public consultation into the abolition of out-of-hours high risk surgery in west Cumbria.

West Cumberland photo
The West Cumberland Hospital

Copeland MP and shadow health minister Jamie Reed is campaigning in the hope he can force a consultation into the decision to scrap the surgery at Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the site, is preparing to carry out all complex 24-hour surgery – such as repairing broken hips and appendectomies – at its Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle from October 1.

It has already stopped the performance of high-risk surgery out-of-hours in Whitehaven, with patients instead transferred to Carlisle.

So far, more than 1,000 people from all over the world have signed the petition on the change.org.uk website.

Mr Reed has accused the trust of using “Trojan horse” tactics, and fears for the future of other services at the Whitehaven hospital.

He has questioned the decision, taken in part by the trust taking over North Cumbria, Northumbria.

Mr Reed said: “The trust has to come clean on its future plans for the West Cumberland Hospital.

“West Cumbria has a very clear idea of what it expects Northumbria to deliver – removing services against their will, on a flimsy basis that could ultimately result in the collapse of other services will be resisted at every turn.”

Supporters of the MP’s campaign have outlined their reasons for backing his calls for a public consultation.

Marion Gray, of Workington, said: “People of west Cumbria deserve a 24/7 service.”

Karen Fox, from Whitehaven, wrote: “We need to keep all our services as local as possible – lives depend on it.”

Linda Mills, of Cleator Moor, said she works at the West Cumberland Hospital and transferring services to Carlisle will result in the hospital no longer being viable.

Debbie Harwood, from Cumbria, added: “Rural people deserve the same as city dwellers.”

Sue Phillips, from Workington, said she has had to go to hospital in Whitehaven with broken bones twice and wouldn’t liked to have had to travel any further.

And Lynda Graham, from Baltimore in the United States, wrote: “All my family live in Whitehaven – I want them to get the service and care they deserve and that we have all paid for.”

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust said the decision to move high-risk out of hours surgery from Whitehaven to Carlisle will “ensure the safest possible care and best possible clinical outcomes”.

The trust added that transferring patients needing complex 24-hour operations to Carlisle will mean the “highest possible standards of patient safety at all times”.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, the trust’s interim medical director, said: “By focussing our high risk surgery on one site, we can create more permanent and dedicated teams of specialist surgeons who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“It also means we can create a safe and sustainable high-risk surgery service for the people of north Cumbria which is in line with all best practice recommendations.”

The trust also estimates that only two to three patients a week will need to be transferred to Carlisle from Whitehaven for high-risk operations.

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