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Trust claims it is "committed to improving care systems"

The Dr Foster report acknowledges that the hospital expects to soon be visited by the national review team trying to improve hospital standards, because of the "higher than expected mortality rate, staff experience and patient experience results".

The trust claims that it is "committed to learning what more can be done to continually improve our systems and the wider systems of care."

The North Cumbria trust is currently in the process of being taken over by the Northumbria healthcare trust.


Board members discuss mortality rates

Board members from the trust which runs the hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven have been discussing the recent high mortality rates at their facilities.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust was highlighted as having 'worryingly' high mortality rates.

A report by Dr Foster, an independent health watchdog, said that the trust was amongst the worst in the country when it came to the number of people dying.

Board members, including interim Chief Executive Ann Farrar, said that progress had already been made when it came to tackling the issue.

They highlighted the results of a new study which they presented to members of the county council's Health Scrutiny Committee.

It shows the Trust's so called 'mortality index' has been steadily declining since the Dr Foster report.

Overcoming financial challenges "is not going to be easy"

Board members from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, which runs hospitals in Kendal, Barrow and Lancaster, have discussed the financial challenges facing the trust.

They told the council's Health Scrutiny Committee that the trust has to deliver savings in line with government cuts and reduce their own deficit.

From a gross spend of £260 million, they need to deliver savings of £30 million by April 2014.

"It is not going to be easy - there will be anxiety and concern surrounding the savings".

– Tim Bennett, Deputy Chief Executive, UHMBT

However, Mr Bennet promised that for every service cut, medical directors would fully examine the impact on patients before the cut was made.

Morecambe Bay Trust discuss problems faced by young mothers

Representatives of the UHBMT have also discussed the progress of the new special care baby unit at the Furness General in Barrow and invited members of the committee to visit.

However, County Council's Scrutiny Committee representatives were critical of the problems faced by mothers in south Cumbria.

One member of the committee said 'you should have got your act together quicker, without having to respond to public and political pressure'.

Board members from the Morecambe Bay Trust acknowledged that 'it didn't look good' but said they were confident that they had made the right decisions to help build the staffing levels to solve the problem.

They highlighted how the small team did not require many to go off sick to create problems.

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee meeting in Kendal

A Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee meeting is being held at the county offices in Kendal.

Representatives from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) said they were trying hard to avoid a repetition of 'the crisis' of staffing, after high levels of sickness, at the special care baby network at the Furness General in Barrow.

At one stage the UHMBT was looking at temporarily moving the unit to Lancaster, but managed to avoid that by receiving help from other organisations.

They now say they want to 'grow their own talent' to improve staffing levels.