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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Cumbrian MP wants explanation on hospitals takeover delay

Workington MP Tony Cunningham has called on a senior health minister to explain why the takeover of the area’s hospitals has been delayed.

Tony Cunningham photo
Tony Cunningham

He, along with north Cumbria’s three other MPs, have united to call on the deal for the West Cumberland Hospital and Cumberland Infirmary to be fast-tracked in the light of growing safety concerns.

They want to see an interim team from the acquiring trust, Northumbria Healthcare, brought in immediately.

Mr Cunningham says he was told this would happen in May, but is still waiting.

An agreement has now been signed between the trusts, giving Northumbria a say in decisions affecting the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals.

But Workington MP Tony Cunningham – who this week set out a written question in the House of Commons to health minister Simon Burns, asking why there was a delay – believes things are still not moving fast enough.

“In his answer the minister said there was an agreed timetable,” he said.

“My view, and I’m sure it is shared by John Stevenson, Jamie Reed and Rory Stewart, is that we need to get an interim management team in as quickly as possible. I was of the understanding that would happen in May. It’s now June so we are already behind.”

Mr Cunningham has now put forward another question asking for an explanation.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson has now met with both interim chief executive Neil Goodwin and trust chairman Mike Little to express his concerns.

He said he was hopeful some progress would be made at next week’s board meeting, where the issue of fast-tracking is expected to be raised.

Mr Stevenson and Penrith and the Border’s Mr Stewart have jointly written to the trust board, Northumbria bosses and the health secretary Andrew Lansley.

“We are encouraging them to bring forward the interim management, particularly as we know Northumbria are keen to get involved,” explained Mr Stevenson.

Earlier this week inspectors conducted an unannounced visit at the Cumberland Infirmary following concerns about patient safety.

A team from national watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) visited the hospital on Tuesday morning.

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