HEALTH leaders in Copeland outlined their goals – and voiced concerns – to Liberal Democrat president Baroness Sal Brinton.

She visited Keswick to spend time with the party's candidate for the upcoming by-election, Rebecca Hanson, and also meet with healthcare workers to hear about how Copeland could potentially be a training base for the GPs of tomorrow.

Mrs Hanson, a Cockermouth town councillor, said that local healthcare staff were in “fine Copeland form” during the meeting, which she added was about “getting Copeland issues on the Westminster agenda”.

She told the News & Star: “What I tried to do was give them th space to be themselves and talk about all the innovations they want to do and are trying to do.

“They were talking about the innovative training schemes they've got for GPs and the way that they want to train multi-skilled consultants.

“They're so enthusiastic about it and they've got visions of how we can have a centre of training excellence that could train people from around the world – they could come to Copeland to train.”

Mrs Hanson said that the meeting – held at Keswick's Quaker Meeting House - also allowed the health leaders to truthfully express their own opinions on the situation in Copeland.

They don't get heard on any of this because they're suffocated with people from elsewhere trying to impose structural change on them that won't work and won't make any sense in any way,” she added. “I'd created sessions specifically because I know this spirit and I know it could emerge and it was just lovely to see.

“They were going into some really technical detail about the kind of schemes they're trying to get approval for that would improve and lead to better training for multi-skilled consultants.

She knew some of the people and bodies that they're working with, so she was able to make a connection and will be talking to those people, including Norman Lamb.”

Mrs Hanson said that health leaders also voiced their concerns about proposals put forward by the Success Regime, which include an overhaul of maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

“You had them almost in tears about the horrors of the cuts that are likely to happen and what the implications of those are,” she added.

Baroness Brinton said: “Some of the new NHS practice being developed by health leaders in West Cumbria is inspirational.

“But, the changes to services proposed by the Success Regime and the sustainability and transformation plans sell west Cumbria short, leaving local residents with huge journey times that will put patient safety at risk.

“It is clear that Rebecca is the voice Copeland needs to help protect health services in this area. She knows the issues inside out and is passionate about ensuring that this area gets the health services it needs and deserves.”

Mrs Hanson added: “This is what I'm all about and what I care about and it was an opportunity to make this meeting happen where there was this incredibly positive atmosphere and this connection to Westminster.

“So, I got an hour of Sal's time and this is what I wanted to do. This was about getting the Copeland issues – both the positive and the negative – on the Westminster agenda.”