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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Cumbrian community fights to ensure health services remain local

Patients’ experience of their stays in hospital could help a campaign to ensure all services remain at Whitehaven’s hospital.

West Cumberland Hospital photo
West Cumberland Hospital

Campaign organiser Siobhan Gearing has gathered more than 2,000 names on an online petition, distributed paper petitions to dozens of outlets and is trying to arrange marches in west Cumbrian towns.

The mother-of-two is now calling on people to send her details of their stay at the West Cumberland Hospital before a meeting with Copeland MP Jamie Reed a week today.

The 26-year-old launched the campaign earlier this month, as a five-year-plan for health services is being drawn up and could include significant changes. Health bosses say if they carry on spending at the current rate, there will be a £20m hole in north Cumbria’s health budget, on top of the £30m they are already trying to save.

“If anyone is really passionate about helping, please send me letters,” said Mrs Gearing. “I have people all over printing petitions, taking them to shops, work and going door to door.”

So far 5,389 people have joined the Facebook page – We Need West Cumberland Hospital – backing the campaign, with many sharing their own experiences.

Mrs Gearing started her fight as she said her experience of the Hensingham hospital during a recent stay was fantastic and that it would be disastrous if services were moved to either Carlisle or Newcastle.

She said: “If there was ever an emergency I’d want my children 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.”

Email your experiences to kgearing73@ gmail.com

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