A CAMPAIGN to return acute A&E services to Kendal’s Westmorland General Hospital is being escalated this week.
Lakes MP Tim Farron has also outlined why he believes a genuine opportunity exists to wrestle them back from Lancaster.
Mr Farron believes that the combination of new chief executive now heading the trust in Jackie Daniel, and the trust itself committing to a rare review of its service provision across its hospital estate in the New Year, increases the campaign’s chances of success.
This week he is writing to dozens of GPs across South Lakeland and South Cumbria seeking their input and will be feeding into the trust review, which starts in January and runs until March before moving into costings and consultations.
Mr Farron said that “very senior clinicians,” within the Trust are warming to the idea and he had enjoyed a very positive meeting recently with Mrs Daniel, who was appointed to the trust’s top job in summer after a major shake-up across some of its key boardroom positions.
Inspite of spending cuts and efficiency drives being a culture of the times in the health service, Mr Farron believes that the ongoing travel costs associated with ferrying patients from Kendal to either Lancaster or Barrow by ambulance could be a helpful factor in relocating A & E services to Kendal.
He said the financial burden of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary’s crumbling hospital infrastructure, which involves portable cabins being used in some instances, also strengthens Kendal’s hand.
Mr Farron will launch a campaign petition tomorrow and said he would be asking local GPS in letters: “Whether they support it (the campaign), and what would need to happen in order for you to support it.”
He says Westmorland General Hospital is “more central,” to the trust’s footprint than Lancaster and has better parking, a newer building and more development potential, although its position off a single carriageway may be regarded as a disadvantage.
“It would be a better place to work and to visit,” he said.
A major campaign was launched to keep services at Westmorland General Hospital over six years with thousands of people taking part.
Mr Farron said: “There’s a great affection for Westmorland General Hospital and it is seen as important in a clinical sense but we don’t have all the services we should have. The reality is if you have a heart attack in Grasmere and are faced with driving 30 minutes to Kendal you are more likely to live longer than driving an hour to Lancaster, however good your paramedic is.”