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.
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.