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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Council leader calls for West Cumbrian health summit

A leading councillor is to demand a health summit amid concerns that service cuts are putting lives at risk.

Allerdale council leader Alan Smith on Wednesday said he would call together local NHS bodies to demand changes to health cuts affecting the area.

His call came as Councillor Phillip Tibble asked the council to formally raise concern about proposed cuts to night time ambulance cover in Carlisle and Penrith and the knock-on effect in Allerdale.

Coun Tibble, who works for the North West Ambulance Service, said plans to cut the number of ambulances in Carlisle from three to two and remove a rapid response car from Penrith could lead to more West Cumbrian ambulances being called to help elsewhere.

On top of the transfer of services from the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, that could cause extra delays for patients in West Cumbria.

Cardiac and stroke services have been moved from West Cumbria and fears were this week raised that maternity services could be next to go, councillors were told.

The ambulance cuts have been put on hold as the service is not meeting its response time targets but Coun Tibble said he was not confident they would not be resurrected.

He said crews already had to wait regularly in A&E for an hour and a half to hand over patients.

He added: “It’s already critical and it’s only going to get worse.”

Coun Smith said: “There’s been a systematic deterioration of services not just in West Cumbria but in Cumbria as a whole.

“We’re going to be left with just an A&E service in West Cumbria. That’s deplorable.”

He pledged to call a summit with the county’s NHS trusts.

Councillors backed Coun Tibble’s notice of motion of concern.

Meanwhile, Copeland MP Jamie Reed is writing to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt demanding that he intervene to safeguard maternity services after a leaked report by the NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group indicated that a review was under way.

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