A ‘SUPER hospital’ could be built to serve the whole of Morecambe Bay as the result of a healthcare review currently being carried out.
Services provided across south Cumbria and north Lancashire could be put into ‘one single large hospital’ while specialist services are ‘likely to be centralised’, according to bosses overseeing a root and branch review of the area’s healthcare.
“We have explored a wide range of potential scenarios,” they said in a stakeholder briefing released this month.
“We have looked at the implications of ‘doing nothing’ as well as the implications of putting most services into one single large hospital.
“We have also looked at ‘hub and spoke’ type models which would involve having a large hospital in one area supported by smaller hospitals elsewhere.”
The ideas have been mooted as part of the Better Care Together review, which is looking at several options for the way services are provided in the future.
The review is being carried out by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), as well as the clinical commissioning groups in Cumbria and north Lancashire.
“Running three major sites is horrendously expensive and very difficult to staff,” said John Kaye, a public governor at UHMBT.
“There’s always a national shortage of clinicians and the trust just can’t get a lot to go to Barrow.
“As financial pressures come up more and more you come to a point where you’re cutting into the bone and arteries of the organisation and clearly something drastic has to be looked at.
“This might be one large hospital to serve the whole area.”
And South Lakes MP Tim Farron, who hailed the idea of a ‘super hospital’, said: “More and more medical clinicians are saying that a new, acute hub hospital to be created near Kendal could be the best way for Morecambe Bay to improve patient safety, access and help with financial savings.
“Many of the problems the trust has had recently stem from the problems of operating from three distinct sites across such a widespread geographic area.”
A source also told the Gazette that a ‘scoping study’ was being carried out to determine a location for a potential new hospital.
However the idea of centralising services in an as-yet unnamed location has been met with mixed reactions.
“Having only just seen off the threat to the future of our maternity unit, the fact that the word ‘centralisation’ is still being bandied around in relation to essential NHS services in the area will be a cause of concern for all,” said Furness MP John Woodcock.
“Change can be good and we know the NHS has to cope with big financial challenges and a population that lives longer but our community would be devastated without a vibrant local hospital.”
And Alan Price, spokesman for South Lakes Health Action, said: “The trouble is we’ve got three hospitals.
“If you’re in Barrow you’ll want that one expanded, and same with Lancaster and Kendal.”