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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Workington MP calls for new bosses at hospitals

Workington MP Tony Cunningham has asked the Government to ensure that the management of the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary are immediately replaced after a catalogue of problems over patient safety.

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QUESTION TABLED: MP Tony Cunningham

He tabled a question to the Secretary of State for Health in Parliament after reports in recent weeks highlighted major concern about a number of issues.

Reference was made to patients dying after incidents at the West Cumberland Hospital or Cumberland Infirmary, and it was reported that more than 2,000 patients suffered falls in the hospitals over two years.

This week, more errors were revealed.

They included an incident where a patient’s oxygen was mistakenly turned off and another where urgent scan results – showing a patient required emergency surgery – were not passed on to medical teams.

Mr Cunningham asked why there had been a hold-up in the acquisition of the financially-stricken North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust by the Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

The Northumbria trust was due to take over the Cumbrian hospitals earlier this year, but the switch was delayed.

It is now due to take over in December, but the Labour MP would like it to happen immediately with new management brought in.

His question said: “Will the minister take steps to ensure this acquisition proceeds quickly so that significant improvements in health care for the communities of north Cumbria can be made?”

Mr Cunningham added: “The current management has let down the people of north and West Cumbria.

“You have only got to listen to the examples revealed in recent weeks to see that. These mistakes shouldn’t be happening.

“These are life and death situations and health trusts cannot be allowed to dice with people’s lives because of management failings.”

A Cumbria trust spokesman said there was no delay in the acquisition process, which included formal steps outside the control of both trusts.

“The proposed acquisition needs to be assessed by Monitor, the NHS regulator of foundation trusts, and the NHS Cooperation and Competition Panel, which is another Government established regulator.

“Following their assessment the final decision rests with the Secretary of State for Health.

“Acquisition is a complex process and so it’s unlikely that it can be speeded up through the necessary regulatory approvals.

“However, what we are collectively doing is making sure that the engagement of clinicians, clinical leaders and managerial staff is being fully supported so that as the regulatory approvals are in place, we are all geared up to merge the two organisations as smoothly and safely as possible.”

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