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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Concerns over surgery plans

MORE details about plans for emergency out-of-hours surgery will be made public once they have been discussed by clinicians.

There has been concern from some consultants at the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, about the lack of involvement in the recently-revealed Closer to Home health plans, particularly in the area of emergency operations.

The preferred option in the Cumbria Primary Care Trust document includes moving emergency out-of-hours surgery from West Cumbria to a major trauma centre which would be set up at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary.

At an open day in Whitehaven on Monday, Ross Forbes, the trust’s director of corporate communications, said there would be a full discussion with clinicians about what can and cannot be done at the West Cumberland. That is expected to be concluded within two weeks.

“People want a lot more detail and that will come out once the clinicians have had fuller discussions.

“If people feel that they haven’t had enough opportunity in coming today, if they want to look at the emergency surgery issue in more depth then yes we can put more open days on. If the demand is there for a public meeting then there can be one,” he added.

Bert van Mourik, consultant anaesthetist at the West Cumberland, said staff were looking forward to some “real involvement,” particularly in areas such as trauma and emergency surgery.

“Most people think that the proposals, as currently presented, are unsafe,” he added.

He said there were also worries about proposed bed numbers.

“There’s a big discrepancy between East and West, for a population that is only a little bit bigger than ours. It’s possible that the unit, based on those bed numbers, will not be a viable district general hospital,” added Mr van Mourik.

Mahesh Dhebar, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, said if there was no out-of-hours emergency surgery then support services and surgical services would not develop.

“Out of hours services is the bulk of a hospital’s work. We do about 40 to 45 per cent emergency work and about 50-55 per cent elective (planned) work. What happens at the weekend? And what exactly is out-of-hours?” he asked.

More detail is needed was to be the general response at the open day in the Civic Hall at Whitehaven, which attracted a steady trickle of people.

Marie Hannah, of the West Cumbria branch of the Royal College of Nursing, said there was a lot of promise in the Closer to Home proposals and they welcomed the opportunity to work closely with the health trusts and get involved at an early stage to support members and patients.

“The document is great for an initial idea but there’s an awful lot more detail needed to give reassurances, it would go a long way to give people reassurances about safety, quality and transport,” she added.

Chris Kitchen, a sister on the West Cumberland’s coronary care unit, said staff were worried about their futures and about where they will be working.

Anne Glazebrook, Vivien Stucke and Graham Roberts were all on hand as members of the various patient watchdog groups, the Patient and Public Involvement Forums.

Anne, representing the ambulance trust, said: “We have been asking what emergency surgery is going to be available and the times that it will be available.

“Paediatrics is going to be a 48-hour assessment unit so children will be transferred to Carlisle and if the special care baby unit is to be nurse-led then some babies will need to be transferred, probably not many but it will happen.

“But there are lots of pluses, not least the push for better management of long-term conditions,” she said.

Vivien Stucke, primary care trust, said they were anxious that more detail should be given about what was meant by complex surgery.

“If major and complex surgery goes then it will be the relatives of the sickest people who will be further away,” she added.

The primary care trust has arranged a series of open days as part of a 14 week consultation into the Closer to Home proposals.

The next one in West Cumbria takes place at The Oval Centre, Salterbeck, Workington, between 2pm and 8pm on Wednesday.

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