ALMOST 3,000 responses to the Gazette’s ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign will be handed over to healthcare bosses next week.
The responses of local people concerned about the future of Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) will be given to the team overseeing the Better Care Together review of services around Morecambe Bay.
It comes after a pair of consultants revealed services could be downgraded at the Kendal site.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of colleagues in the hospital and we’re all very happy with the services provided at Kendal and do not think there’s a good case – clinical or otherwise – for moving services away,” said one of the medics, at the launch of the campaign.
“I hope people will get behind it and fight to ensure the hospital remains safe.”
Now almost 3,000 people have sent in coupons or signed an online petition against proposals to move services away from the site, or out of NHS control, as part of a £165m project.
The proposals were revealed in a meeting which the consultants attended with Jackie Daniel, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT), where they said suggestions were made services could be moved to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which could be in line for investment of £150m.
Another £15m could also be spent at Furness General Hospital, while it was allegedly said WGH could be ‘gifted’ to a ‘social enterprise’.
The proposal was made as part of Better Care Together, which is being led by GPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and UHMBT, to create a long-term plan for healthcare around the bay.
As the campaign launched, the Gazette asked Dr Hugh Reeve, chair of the Cumbria CCG, to give ‘categorical assurances’ on behalf of Better Care Together that existing services will be maintained at WGH.
“We can’t at this time give those assurances because we haven’t finished the process,” he said.
“Why would we be doing the review if we could say that all existing services will stay the same?”
And in a blog posted online, Ms Daniel said it was ‘unlikely’ the outcome of Better Care Together will be to ‘stay as we are and “tinker” around the edges’.
“I do believe that if we work together we can create a system that we can all be proud of, but we do have to think beyond bricks and mortar,” she continued.
“This isn’t the time to be protective about traditional organisational boundaries.”
It is expected that a long-list of possible ideas will be released in July, this year, ahead of a formal, full-scale consultation period with local people.
Readers are now being urged to fill out the coupon, so that all responses can be handed over in the next week calling for ideas to downgrade WGH to be abandoned.
* To back the campaign either print off and complete the coupon above or support the campaign online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RYZ5393