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Consultant-led maternity services continue in west Cumbria

A&E department at West Cumberland Hospital Photo: ITV Border

Consultant-led maternity services in west Cumbria will stay in place for another year - but their future beyond that is dependent on hospital bosses proving that they can recruit and retain the specialist staff they need.

The decision, by the Department of Health, follows years of campaigning by locals who say its unacceptable and dangerous to expect women in labour to be transported to Carlisle.

The Chief Executive at NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said:

We are very grateful to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for the careful consideration they have given this issue. We have always been very clear that we are wholly committed to delivering Option 1 – which includes consultant-led maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital, if they are safe and sustainable. This review endorses the work we are doing to secure that.

We understand there may be some disappointment in the community with this decision, but we would absolutely urge everyone who cares about their community to work with us to make services at West Cumberland Hospital a sustainable success.

Our commitment to co-produce future services is already bringing together members of the community, NHS and care staff, as well as health and social care leaders. By working together positively we believe we can meet the many challenges ahead, the greatest of which remains the recruitment of medical and nursing professionals.

We heard very clearly through the consultation that the NHS does not have all the answers, and we are convinced that the only way to secure these services in west Cumbria for the future is by working positively and constructively together.”

– Stephen Childs, chief executive, NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group

The Chief Executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust commented:

I would like to thank the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for their scrutiny of this very difficult decision. Our prime concern remains with the safety of our services for women and children across west, north & east Cumbria and we are absolutely committed to protecting patient safety and the quality of our services.

The IRP recognises the work we have been doing to-date in order to sustain consultant-led services at West Cumberland Hospital as well as acknowledging the challenges we are facing.

I understand that members of staff and our community may feel disappointed today but I would like to reiterate our commitment to both delivering Option 1 and to the future of West Cumberland Hospital. We are continuing to focus on recruiting more permanent medical and nursing staff to the Trust with a range of initiatives being undertaken.

We also recently shared exciting plans for the further redevelopment of the hospital and I would like us all to work together to secure a very positive future for health and care services in West Cumbria.”

– Stephen Eames, chief executive, North Cumbria NHS Trust