Hundreds pack into meeting about the future of Furness General Hospital (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Hundreds pack into meeting about the future of Furness General Hospital
MORE than 350 people flooded into a public meeting in Barrow tonight to voice their concerns about the future of Furness General Hospital.
The event was hosted by Thousand Voices campaigners, who fear a service review by the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBT) will see Barrow’s maternity unit downgraded from consultant-led to midwifery-led.
The decision to send the hospital's special baby care unit to Lancaster was overturned recently, but a final decision is yet to be made.
Although the main focus was on maternity, the panel, which included UHMBT chief executive and medical director, Jackie Daniel and George Nasmyth, lead commissioning GP for Furness, Geoff Jolliffe, and Barrow and Furness MP, John Woodcock, answered questions over a range of issues surrounding the future of Furness General.
The campaign is spearheaded by married mother-of-two Mandy Telford, wife of the town's Labour MP John Woodock. More than 750 people had submitted a video, played before the meeting at the Forum, explaining why they want the service to remain in Barrow.
John Woodcock MP said: "There's many bad days on the A590. In 2012, there were 68 emergency category one caesareans. That's 136 lives at risk on the road to Lancaster if this service is removed.
"That is not good enough."
Concerns were also raised by members of the public about the future of wards at the hospital, including oncology, the frozen food provided to patients and staff and how many beds were going to be cut as part of the trust's cost-cutting measures.
Chief Executive of UHMBT, Jackie Daniel said: "I'm here to provide the best service in Barrow, that is my primary aim.
"We have no option but to remove beds. We have to cut £25million in the next two years. We are doing everything possible to make sure jobs aren't lost and want you to work with us on that."
Many members of the public also praised the staff at Furness General Hospital while chair of the meeting, Mandy Telford, thanked the panel for 'coming in person and showing you care.'
Concluding the meeting, the campaign organiser said: "This is the start, let's keep going. I’m an optimist and I like to think people will listen, but maybe people will only listen if we shout loud enough.”