Good News, Bad News

By Alan Alexander


I really intended to write something positive this month about health matters in Cumbria.  But then along came some bad news so I’ll start with that first and save the sweeties for later.  I’ve written before that one of the most effective deliverers of health care in the world is our NHS but I’ve also written that every five years improvements in delivery get dragged backwards by the equivalent of two years by yet another reorganisation.  While governments have a role in improving the NHS they always feel the need to make grand gestures with the resultant throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Can you remember when two to three years was not unusual to wait for elective surgery and now the target (apparently a dirty word but not in my book) is 18 weeks, sensible changes really can improve our lives.


Apparently the Department of Health has carried out its own risk assessment about the latest reorganization that Andrew Lansley the Secretary of State for Health refuses to let anyone see.  The information Commissioner has ordered the health secretary to publish this assessment, the reason for his refusal is not difficult to find.  It points out the huge risk of costs spiralling out of control while there is some question about the ability of the GP clusters all over the country to take control of the NHS budget. Watch this space!


And now for the sweeties: if the NHS both nationally and locally feels like a boat in a rough sea at the moment seeing a safe haven is very welcome. A decision has been made THAT  our hospitals will merge with  Northumberland, only time will tell if that was a wise move. And according to a letter I received from the chief executive of the Primary Care Trust they are totally in favour of the continuation of the rebuilding of West Cumberland Hospital, so we must make sure she keeps her promise. Then in early February the Hospital Trust announced an increase in staffing and investment of nearly £¼ million in the Obstetrics department at Whitehaven. This  has to be good news for us and the staff working there and I look forward to the announcement of the new consultants posts being filled.


As a member of the governing body of the Cumbria LINK I’ll share with you the text of our latest press release:


“Cumbria LINk, the health and social care watchdog, welcomes the announcement of more resources being put into the Obstetrics department of the West Cumberland hospital. After a long period of uncertainty concerning the merger with another trust and the delay in rebuilding the hospital this is very welcome news. Alan Alexander, chair of the Cumbria LINk said, “We will continue to listen to patients and the public about  their experiences of the new provision and encourage anyone with comments or concerns to make to let us know in confidence we will then be able to pass their comments on to the appropriate people within the hospital.”


The Cumbria LINk urges anyone who has comments to make about their experiences of health or social care services to contact them, make sure you make the NHS, your NHS.


Cumbria LINK 01228 512 513 or

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