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NHS Trust defends position after maternity letter

The NHS Trust has responded. Credit: PA

The NHS Trust in charge of the West Cumberland Hospital and Cumberland Infirmary has defended its position, after the publication of a letter accusing it of spreading "false" information.

Andrene Hamilton, an Obstetrics & Gynaecology consultant at West Cumberland Hospital, sent the letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May.

The letter calls proposals to downgrade maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital "dangerous", and says all maternity consultants at the hospital are against the proposals.

However, the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has now defended its position.

We are fully engaged with our obstetrics & gynaecology consultants as well as our wider consultant body. The view of the majority of our obstetrics & gynaecology consultants and the wider clinical leadership team is that if we cannot maintain consultant-led units at both hospital sites, we must explore alternative ways to provide a safe and sustainable service for mothers and babies in West, North & East Cumbria. This view has been expressed consistently for many months.

We have been open about the fact that we had some success last year in recruiting middle-grade doctors in Maternity services. However, we have also been clear that the concerns around staffing mainly relate to our paediatric services. In the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report about our Children’s services published in November 2016, they absolutely recognised the long-standing challenges we have in recruiting substantive medical staff in this area and the fact that we are taking action to tackle this issue.

During the consultation thousands of people have been engaged with and thousands of questionnaire responses and written responses were submitted. They are all currently being independently analysed and the analysis report will be one of the papers that NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group considers when reaching decisions on the services described in the consultation document including maternity services.

– Dr Rod Harpin, medical director of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
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