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Campaigners stage protest outside new hospital

Protestors outside new West Cumberland Hospital Credit: ITV Border

Dozens of protestors have gathered outside Whitehaven's new West Cumberland Hospital this morning to campaign for keeping health services they claim could be lost to Carlisle.

The protestors are taking action today as the public can take a look inside the £90million hospital for the first time as part of a community open day.

Hospital protest Credit: ITV Border


NHS issues response to Healthwatch report on cancer treatment services in Cumbria

Credit: PA

NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, (UMBHT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUHT) have responded to a report into Cumbria’s cancer services by Healthwatch.

All three NHS organisations say they agree improvements are needed and insist that efforts are being made to deliver them.

The organisations also stress that ensuring access to high quality cancer services for people living in Cumbria is a priority for all partners within the local NHS.

Healthwatch has requested a response to its report within 20 days, and a comprehensive response will be provided and made public.

“The CCG welcomes the report and recognises some of the issues within the report. I think it is important to reassure people of our own findings which show a different and more positive picture. The CCG conducted an audit of 2,300 patients diagnosed with cancer with only 86 of those visiting their GP five or more times before being referred. Over 500 were not diagnosed through their GP but following a screening test or an emergency hospital admission.

“The CCG works closely with its partners to flag up issues regarding waiting times and how these can be improved. Our priority is to improve the health economy of Cumbria and we are working hard to instigate the changes needed to ensure delivery of robust, safe, high quality and affordable services. The key message here is that early diagnosis is vital in the fight against cancer and we need to ensure our clinical staff are trained in recognising symptoms. We will be working with Healthwatch and our partners to encourage people to attend screenings when requested and to see a GP if they feel they have symptoms of cancer.”

– Dr Hugh Reeve, Interim Chief Clinical Officer for the CCG

'Broken contract' between maternity unit and patients

Twelve deaths over eight years, all of which could have been prevented. That's the conclusion of an independent inquiry set-up to look into the failures at a maternity unit in South Cumbria.

Dr Bill Kirkup, who chaired the investigation into Furness General Hospital said a "lethal mix" of problems at a "seriously dysfunctional" maternity unit led to the unnecessary deaths of 11 babies and one mother.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, apologised to the families of the victims today - before describing the unit as a "second Mid Staffs".

Our reporter Elaine Willcox was at today's inquiry:

Well earlier Elaine spoke to the new Medical Director at Morecambe Bay Trust, Dr David Walker.

He apologised to the families of the victims and promised wholesale reviews from the board to the ward.

MP speaks out on maternity deaths findings

A Cumbrian MP has branded maternity deaths at Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust as ‘one of the worst episodes of systematic failings within the NHS in recent times’.

Speaking after the publication of the Kirkup review today, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said he blamed pressure to achieve Foundation Trust status for leading to poor patient care and patient safety being compromised at the Morecambe Bay NHSTrust - especially in Barrow.

"The first issues relating to maternity deaths at Barrow were raised back in 2004. It is awful that it has taken until today to get to the truth of what has happened. Eleven years is simply too long to wait. My thoughts today are withthe families who will be reading the report with apprehension and trepidation,hoping words will finally be turned into action.

"I will continue to do all I can to try and support the families affected and campaign alongside them for the report's recommendations to be enacted. Like them, I want people to be held to account for their actions.”

– Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale
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