Campaigners in West Cumbria fear dozens of lives a year will be at risk if maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital are downgraded. It's after exclusive figures obtained by Lookaround revealed the number of emergency Caesarean sections carried out there annually.
Health bosses are waiting for the outcome of an independent review into maternity services before making decisions about the future. Katie Hunter reports:
Campaigners in West Cumbria fear more than 70 lives a year will be at risk if maternity services at West Cumberland Hospital are downgraded.Read the full story ›
Protesters say last night's march over cuts at the West Cumberland Hospital was to keep the issue in the public eye.
Protesters against cuts to services at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital held a torchlit march last night.
The "We need West Cumberland Hospital" Group say that thirty-three services in West Cumbria have either been lost or are under threat, and that moving them to Carlisle is putting public safety at risk.
A new £90,000,000 hospital is being built in Whitehaven but protesters say that the loss of services may not be addressed by this.
However, the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is arguing that services have been improved under the new structure.
It also says that it's important to note that some of the "threatened" services may not actually be under threat.
"Following the centralisation of all complex high risk surgery at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in 2013, the number of deaths of people from West Cumbria associated with emergency surgery has fallen by over 50%, showing that this was absolutely the right decision for our patients.
“The new £90 million West Cumberland Hospital will ensure that the vast majority of people living in West Cumbria will continue receive their healthcare locally. The new hospital will offer a range of services including an emergency floor with A&E, ambulatory care, ITU and critical care, seven state of the art operating theatres and improved diagnostic services."
Investigators say that the cause of the fire in the energy centre of the new West Cumberland Hospital was "most likely" accidental.
Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and independent investigators have been working to ascertain what started the blaze on 23 January 2015.
They say the investigation is going well.
“It is a complex, technically demanding investigation involving large amounts of physical and data evidence. The investigation team is working exceptionally well together utilising experts from a wide field of specialities.
“I can confirm that the current evidence we have indicates that the most likely cause is an accidental fire within the Energy Centre. The investigation will continue as we methodically attempt to pinpoint the exact cause.”
The staff at the West Cumberland Hospital have been praised by the Trust's chief executive following Friday night's fire.
Anne Farrar has thanked staff for working to ensure that no patients were affected by the incident, including those who volunteered to come from home if they were needed.
She has also paid tribute to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.
“I would like to thank our staff for the outstanding commitment they have shown over the past few days.
"I spent Saturday going round West Cumberland Hospital to talk to staff and whilst everybody was understandably upset, they were all also wonderfully determined that the future is still very bright for the hospital.
“I would also like to thank the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for their quick action on Friday night to ensure the fire was controlled as quickly as possible.”
Les Morgan, Project Director for new West Cumberland Hospital