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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Hundreds join march to protect West Cumberland Hospital services

Hundreds of people marched in support of west Cumbrian hospital services.

Hospital march photo
March organiser Siobhan Gearing leads the banner waving protesters along King Street

The peaceful demonstration saw almost 300 protesters walk with banners calling for all of the services at the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, to remain, on site, with nothing transferred to Carlisle or Newcastle.

The march was organised by Mirehouse mother Siobhan Gearing, who heads a Facebook group which has gathered 8,000 signatures for a hospitals petition.

Crowds, who walked from Whitehaven’s Market Place to Castle Park, heard from speakers including Copeland MP Jamie Reed; former hospital consultant Mahesh Dhebar and Christine Wharrier, Hillcrest and Hensingham county councillor.

Mrs Wharrier told the protesters: “We can no longer attract consultants and staff, because there are no long-term jobs for them here. Nobody is going to move their family up here for a job that could only be for 12 months.

“We should all be insulted by how they are treating us and we won’t just stand for it. I would never want to put my family at risk and I won’t let them put them at risk either. We want them to come out and speak to us and tell us what they’re doing, and if we don’t like it they should change it.”

Mr Dhebar continued: “We need to make the authorities know that we are fighting for our services. It’s extremely important and vital that people support this cause.

“If we don’t fight for our services, we will get exactly what we deserve, and not what we want and need.”

He told the crowd that “any health care provider wanting to carry out major changes must consult the public”.

Speaking from the park’s bandstand, Mr Reed warned health bosses that if the public were not consulted then he would be prepared to march every week.

“The fight will go on until we get the services that we were promised,” he said.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said: “The £90m redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital marks a new era in healthcare for west Cumbria and I am pleased to say that we now have only five months to go until the completion of the new hospital building.

“Our clinical departments will move into the new hospital in spring 2015 and the modern facility offers many state-of-the-art services including seven operating theatres and an integrated emergency floor.

“The new hospital is something for the local community to celebrate and We look forward to providing high quality care in a modern environment.”

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