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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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1,700 sign 'hands off' hospital services petition in four days

A new campaign calling for vital hospital services to stay in west Cumbria has been backed by more than 1,700 people – in just four days.

Siobhan Gearing photo
Siobhan Gearing

Hundreds of people have signed an online petition and paper versions are being handed out to shops, doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies across west Cumbria this weekend.

It comes as a five-year-plan for health services in north Cumbria is being drawn up, which could include significant changes.

Petition organiser Siobhan Gearing said her experience at the Whitehaven hospital was exceptional when she had a caesarian. She is pressing for all of the existing services to remain at the hospital, rather than being transferred.

The mother-of-two from Mirehouse said: “I started the petitions because I have children of my own and if there was ever an emergency with them I’d want them to get the best treatment at the West Cumberland Hospital, rather than travel to Carlisle or even Newcastle as that could mean the difference between life and death.

“A lot of people have said how good an experience they had at the hospital, and I myself have experienced it. We will be handing paper petitions out to shops, doctors and pharmacies at the weekend and I’m also going to ask schools to help.”

The 26-year-old has also posted a letter to prime minister David Cameron today, telling him of the public’s fears and has pledged to send him a copy of the petition.

Since launching it on Monday, the support from the community has been overwhelming, said Mrs Gearing. However, she wants more people to come forward and show how strongly the community feels about its services.

Health bosses say if they carry on spending at the rate they are, there will be a £20m hole in north Cumbria’s health budget. This is on top of the £30m they are already trying to save. Before making proposals they are urging the public to have their say.

The petition is online at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/helen-kelly-sheena-bossche-save-our-hospital-we-need-west-cumberland-hospital-all-of-its-original-services

A Facebook page – We Need West Cumberland Hospital – is backing the campaign.

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