Probably you already know that in UK we’re fighting to retain NHS services. This is not just a fight to retain ‘certain’ services but to keep our healthcare public; British people don’t want to see it privatised or in the hands of private health insurance companies, such as it is the case in USA, for example.
However, in West Cumbria the fight has been more focussed into retaining part of the basic services because the local trust (NCHUT), its several managers and CEOs are advocating for the improvement of services whilst at the same time denying a whole part of the population the right to have these services on their doorstep.
The health of the whole of West Cumbria, from Millom to Workington is serviced by a hospital located in Whitehaven, the West Cumberland Hospital. Because of bad mismanagement and waste of money, the NCHUT has decided that some cuts were needed and therefore maintaining some wards at that hospital was too expensive. Plus, bad mismanagement of resources had also led to difficulties in recruiting valid staff available to work at the hospital. But, to be honest, would you work at a hospital without the certainty of being kept there?
To give you an idea of the idiocy of the entire ‘affair’, in May 2015 I was referred to the West Cumberland Hospital for a tooth extraction. I got an appointment with a dentist in October (4 months to get someone to have a look at my tooth!!) and at the appointment I was unsurprisingly told that I needed a tooth extraction (really?!?!) and that I needed to go to Carlisle main hospital for such a surgery (Cumberland Infirmary Hospital). A freakkin’ 120-mile-round trip for a tooth extraction, whilst the West Cumberland Hospital has a whole new dental ward equipped with futuristic equipment… but staff is not authorised to perform tooth extractions!!!! (visited the ward during another dental emergency so I know it’s there!). To add insult to injury, my husband had to take half a day off to drive me to Carlisle because I was going to be given anaesthetic and when we got there they told us they couldn’t perform the surgery because the equipment had gone on fire the previous week…. If it wasn’t for the delightful and kind intervention of a dental nurse, probably I’d still have the tooth in my mouth. So I underwent this ‘impressive’ surgery (10 minutes!) mid-November, after 5 months since my referral.
And it was a tooth extraction. Just imagine what happens and will happen to:
- women in labour who are not going to have a smooth delivery
- anyone with broken wrists, arms, legs, etc.
- anyone requiring specialised staff to read a MRI, Cat Scan, and other particular tests
- anyone involved in a car accident
- children who need to stay overnight and their families
- anyone with a diagnosis of stroke or a heart attack
- typologies of burns that require serious medical attention
You guessed right, all the above categories of patients will have to be transported in an ambulance to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary for an hour or more and in doing so patients will also risk their lives because the only road to Carlisle from Whitehaven is the infamous A595, a road that is more similar to a timber lorry road in the Highlands of Scotland than a ‘proper’ English road; obviously it is particularly dangerous at night too.
Sometimes helicopters might be available but very often they’re not; sometimes ambulances are not available either to cope with extreme ‘patient traffic’ and patients are packed in the corridors waiting for a transfer that could have been avoided if the ‘brains in power’ had not decided single-handedly to cut services off!! I mean, is this the healthcare the West Cumbrian people should get?
Rightly so, local communities are fed up. Fed up with lies and empty promises to return or retain some of these services. Therefore, I’m posting here a well-written public letter posted by Rachel Holliday on the group of West Cumberland Hospital Committee on Facebook, just to give you an idea of the general mood of the local population.
“So the Success Regime have agreed between themselves on some “Options” for OUR health care and our hospital. Now as I understand it, one of the options is to lose Consultant led maternity and so any women in an emergency would have to travel to Carlisle. Another option they would like us to consider is that our children ward will only be open through the day and any serious illness would have to be transferred to Carlisle. They feel though that returning EMERGENCY surgery to WCH is not an option….Really?
In amongst the report there are some quite nice ideas and possible solutions to lead us away from the fact that they want to strip more of our vital emergency services away from us to save money. How dare the government and people carrying out these repeated “reviews” try to dictate to us what health care we will and wont have. Losing consultant maternity is NOT an option, so you have wasted your time and more of OUR money writing it in there. You do not own our hospitals and services we do! The people of West Cumbria who for generations have paid into the system like everyone else in the UK. I will NOT accept a watered down second class health care system because we live in a remote location! Do not try to tell me that we need to save money at WCH because WE the community have paid for it, and the services in it 10 x over! It is OUR health care, it is OUR hospital! It is YOU that has squandered Billions of pounds over the years. You may be able to frighten our nurses and staff into silence, and gag our retired consultants with legal threats but you cant gag the people and you will NEVER gag me! We employ YOU! Not the other way round!
I will stand shoulder to shoulder with We Need West Cumberland Hospital Campaign and ask every member of my community to do so. You have underestimated the power of the West Cumbrian people. The Government do not own us! We own them! We should be outraged and offended that these people in their ivory towers look down on us and tell us what is best for us, and what is “safe” for us and what we should and shouldn’t have! How dare you! You cannot enforce these changes that endanger our lives because your “options” tell you so! Although we think it is women who are affected by these questionable “options” in maternity, I say to every large business out there that if you want to attract top quality professionals to this area, you better have a top quality hospital! If you want to have a centre of nuclear excellence, then we need WCH to be a centre of excellence too. It is our health care! You don’t even use it!! You should be asking US for the options then looking at all the ways to making it happen. Crack on with your Consultation or Engagement or what ever you want to call it, West Cumbria is ready for it, no more sitting around tables whilst we turn into their furniture. You want to attack what is left of our Hospital? Bring it on..”
Please, share this post and our concerns. Nationally, internationally, on Mars, everywhere!! The more the better. HELP West Cumbrians to have a fully operational hospital.