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Friday, 31 October 2014

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MPs welcome inquiry into death rates at north Cumbria hospitals

The decision to invstigate the number of people who have died in north Cumbrian hospitals has been welcomed by the region’s MPs – but they are united in their call for change.

Regardless of political party, the trio of politicians representing the region’s residents have urged those involved in the planned acquisition of North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust to ensure it is completed as soon as possible.

Northumbria Healthcare was originally scheduled to have acquired the cash-strapped Cumbrian trust last year, but this was delayed until April. The News & Star revealed in November that the deal had been delayed again, and is now due to be completed in October.

The MPs all insist that they had raised their concerns in the past, and had put their faith in the trust’s takeover by Northumbria to help improve the situation.

Tony Cunningham, MP for Workington, said: “The reality is we should have a new trust in place now as we speak.

“It has been delayed and delayed and delayed: I am sick and tired and very frustrated that we don’t have a new management team in place to deal with incredibly serious issues.”

Carlisle MP John Stevenson agreed: “The delays in getting the hospital taken over and run by Northumbria are getting very unacceptable, and everything should be done to get Northumbria fully in control.

“Only then will we start to get a hospital we actually deserve.”

He added: “When you get a report like this, you expect there to be a high level investigation and potentially it could be beneficial for the hospitals, because it forces the management on the issues.”

Jamie Reed, shadow Health minister and MP for Copeland, said: “We know the trust is facing very difficult challenges in terms of performance, structurally and financially and I do not believe that anyone should fear Bruce Keogh’s investigation – it should be welcomed.

“We all expect the best possible services and we must all share the same desire to improve services where they can be improved.”

He continued: “I do not believe the answer to any problems identified will be to reduce services at either the West Cumberland Hospital or the Cumberland Infirmary and this review must not be used as a smokescreen with which to do this. I know from personal experience that the West Cumberland Hospital can and does provide excellent care on a frequent basis and that the medical staff are providing a superb service in the face of understaffing, budget cuts and organisational chaos.”

Mr Cunningham added that Northumbria needs to acquire the Cumbrian trust as a matter of urgency, to ensure it is in place by the time the results of Sir Bruce’s review are published.

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