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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Cumbrian MP’s first-hand view of conditions in NHS

Copeland MP Jamie Reed MP says that during a recent spell as a patient in hospital he saw resources stretched to the limit.

Jamie Reed photo
Jamie Reed

Mr Reed, who is Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, spoke out after a national report revealed how North Cumbria’s main hospital trust has one of the country’s worst records for death rates.

The so-called Dr Foster Hospital Guide ranks hospital trusts according to average death rates for patients – and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, was among the five worst performing trusts.

Mr Reed said the trust’s Dr Foster Hospital Guide rating showed that it was rated as highly efficient.

He added: “But the high mortality rate for the Trust’s patients is simply not acceptable. Having spent last week in West Cumberland Hospital, I know that the level of care is very good.

“But I also know resources are being stretched to breaking point.

“I watched nurses doing their shifts with no breaks and working extremely hard in difficult circumstances from the first minute of their day to the last. The surgical and other medical teams, from the point of view of this patient, were superb. This effort by nurses and other clinical staff cannot be doubted.

“The fact that the Trust is rated as highly efficient shows that it is stretching its resources as far as possible and needs more support to bring down the mortality rate.

“It is clear then that pressures on budgets and resources are having a negative impact on care and this is simply unacceptable: medics are working in arguably the most challenging environment in the country.

“We also need to look at the role of GPs, primary care, and other out of hours primary care provision as part of this picture.

“How many people are attending hospital suffering in a worsened medical state because they couldn’t access their GP or primary care?

“This is a real and growing issue which appears to have anecdotally become much worse in recent years. I am absolutely clear though that there are some long standing problems that need to be addressed and that the Dr Foster report is not an excuse with which to remove services from the West Cumberland Hospital, but an illustration of what improvements need to be urgently made.

“With the delay on the acquisition of the Trust and mounting financial pressures, patients are suffering.

“With budgets being tightened, the Government must prioritise the health and wellbeing of patients above all else.”

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