"Difficult decision" made to suspend outpatient appointments across Cumbria due to increased Covid cases

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is suspending most outpatient appointments.

As the number of patients testing positive for Covid-19 increases across the region, the "difficult decision" has been made to suspend clinics at the Cumberland Infirmary, West Cumberland Hospital and community sites from Friday the 8th of January 2021.

The Trust says urgent appointments will still go ahead and will be assessed on a case by case basis. The suspension will be in place for a period of two weeks and reviewed on a weekly basis.

In the meantime, the Trust will redeploy medical staff to the wards where extra support is required.

In the last week, we have seen a doubling of patients with COVID-19 being admitted into our hospitals and we are expecting this to increase in the coming weeks. Combined with the fact that many of our staff are having to self-isolate, this brings challenges in delivering our normal services.

Dr Rod Harpin, Medical Director at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust

In a statement, the Medical Director of the Trust said: "We realise this can be distressing for patients awaiting appointments; however, this decision has been made to prioritise the safety and healthcare needs of our patients. We will endeavour to restart all services as soon as it is safe to do so and will continue to share regular updates. We thank all of our patients for their cooperation at this time."

Dr John Sturman the Clinical Director for Intensive care at the Trust spoke to ITV Border:

The Trust says it is keen to stress they are doing "everything they can to maintain core and emergency services across the hospitals".

Chief Nurse for north Cumbria NHS Anna Stabler offered this message of support:

Special videos have been released from frontline staff, including those in maternity services, reinforcing the message that some services are still continuing and to seek support if needed.

Advice for patients in the region:

The Trust is contacting all patients affected, so patients are not required to contact the Trust. If you have not been told your appointment has been cancelled, or you are invited to attend, please do so as this means your case will have been assessed and we would like to see you. 

The Trust has strict infection prevention measures in place for your safety in the hospital, please wear a mask or face covering, available at the main entrances if you do not have one, use hand sanitisers on entry and exit, stick to the marked one way systems and stay 2m away from others. 

  • Choose our services wisely – if you have been invited for an appointment, please attend. The NHS is still here for you, but please choose the service most appropriate for their need when they need to access medical help. This includes:

  • 111 – this service provides 24 hour advice on any healthcare need

  • Pharmacy – think pharmacy first where there are trained professionals who can prescribe medicines and give advice

  • GP – for ongoing or persistent medical issues

  • Minor injuries and Urgent Treatment centres – for urgent but not life-threatening issues

  • A&E - for life-threatening and serious emergencies only.

  • Maternity guidance - If you have any worries regarding your maternity care, your points of contact have not changed. Your midwife is here for you and will be able to discuss your queries.