Cumbrian maternity services saved on a 12-month trial

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Maternity services in west Cumbria have been given a 12-month reprieve - but the most seriously ill children must be treated in Carlisle.

Recommendations handed to health bosses this morning altered the preferred option for the future of maternity services at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital.

It suggested retaining consultant-led services a for a year, to "test the viability" - a recommendation health bosses have just voted to approve.

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group's governing body is currently meeting at the Oval Centre in Salterbeck, Workington, to discuss the Healthcare for the Future proposals.


Follow the meeting live as it happened here.


Campaigners have fought for months to retain vital services, with maternity among the key concerns.

The original preferred option by the Success Regime had been to get rid of consultant-led services in Whitehaven, with pregnant women needing consultant care forced to travel 40 miles to Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary.

The fresh recommendations presented to the CCG today have given a lifeline to maternity services.

However, while it has been agreed to retain consultant-led services, health chiefs have agreed it will be on a 12-month trial basis.

If, after that period, consultant-led services are "not proven to be deliverable or sustainable" then the unit will be closed in favour of a midwife-led unit.

To ensure a smooth transition should that happen, health chiefs have agreed to approve the creation of a maternity-led unit (MLU) in Whitehaven alongside the consultant service.

The MLU would then be audited as a freestanding unit.

Members have also voted to approve the recommendations for option 1 in relation to children's services.

This will see a short stay paediatric ward at the West Cumberland, with some overnight stays for monitoring.

All children with more serious conditions will be transferred to Carlisle. Only lower risk youngsters will be cared for in Whitehaven.

The governing body approved that if option 1 was not sustainable, option 2 may need to be implemented.

This would be only a short stay paediatric ward at the West Cumberland Hospital with no overnight beds.

Members agreed to close beds in community hospitals in Alston, Wigton, Maryport would close, with 104 beds consolidated across the remaining sites.

Hospitals in Brampton, Keswick, Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven’s Copeland Unit would gain beds, taking their totals to 16, but Penrith would lose four.

More care would instead be delivered in people’s homes.

The governing body has endorsed the continuing work with Maryport, Alston and Wigton, as it anticipated this would lead to further proposals within the next 12 months, as part of plans to implement 'Integrated Care Communities'.

Stroke services will be centralised in Carlisle in a "hyper-acute" stroke unit.

As part of the unit, a seven-day transient ischaemic attack service will be considered. Recruitment of stroke physicians will also continue.

CCG medical director David Rogers said there was no "golden hour" for stroke patients, it was actually three to four hours from the first symptoms starting.

The new hyper-acute stroke unit, at the Cumberland Infirmary, would be staffed by specialists seven days a week.

Stephen Singleton, Success Regime medical director, said: "At the moment we have got two services on two sites trying as hard as they can to do what they can."

Members also voted to make permanent a number of changes to emergency services, trauma and orthopaedic services which were made last year.

This would see the majority of trauma and emergency orthopaedics transferred from Whitehaven to Carlisle.

The changes were brought in on "safety grounds" last year but a public consultation never took place.

Some emergency surgery and trauma care would take place in the West Cumberland Hospital, however, including keyhole gall bladder operations, surgical treatment of abscesses and an extra outpatient fracture clinic.

Stephen Childs, chief executive of the CCG, said the next step was to produce a report for the county council's scrutiny board, which sits on March 22.

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Brian   Murray , Workington Thursday, 09 March, 2017 at 9:12PM
We don't have money for beds but we always seem to have money for these people that te!all us what we need and don't need
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Orange   Peel , Flimby Wednesday, 08 March, 2017 at 4:29PM
How are these changes going to stop 'bed blocking'? Have the (lack of) success team not listened to anything from the public?
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Alan   Robinson , Carlisle Wednesday, 08 March, 2017 at 1:12PM
Text below is cut and copied from HSE website. Will be interesting to see what happens when the first mother and baby die on the road to Carlisle. Because I think sending emergency c sections to Carlisle is a gross breach of duty of care. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 is a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
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