Gazette's campaign to protect local hospital services wins major boost

The Westmorland Gazette: Lakes MP Tim Farron ran from Levens to Westmorland General Hospital to hand in the signatures he has collected Lakes MP Tim Farron ran from Levens to Westmorland General Hospital to hand in the signatures he has collected

A GAZETTE campaign to save services at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH) has received a major boost after assurances were given that the site would not be ‘gifted’ to a social enterprise.

The Hands Off Our Hospital appeal – which garnered more than 3,000 signatures in less than two months – was launched after it was revealed University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) was considering moving key clinical services away from the Kendal site and exploring the possibility that the hospital could be handed to a non-NHS organisation.

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Backed by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, the Gazette’s campaign petition was started early in April and by the end of May more than 3,200 signatures had been collected on coupons, which were handed over to the the trust.

Now UHMBT has confirmed WGH is to remain within the trust and operate NHS services.

However, there is still a question mark hanging over which services will be retained at WGH.

The trust and the Cumbria and Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Groups have now submitted the Better Care Together Strategy to NHS England.

UHMBT said there were ‘no proposals to close any of the three hospitals at Barrow in Furness, Lancaster or Kendal’ or to privatise any of the sites.

Mr Farron, who has campaigned hard alongside the Gazette, last week ran from Levens to WGH to hand over his own petition to the trust.

He said: “This is wonderful news and I want to thank everyone who has helped to campaign to protect our hospital. I hope that we can now build on our success of defending the hospital by extending the services offered there.”

Gazette news editor Mike Addison said: “I’m pleased our joint campaign with Mr Farron has had a positive impact.

“However, while it is clear Westmorland General will not be privatised there is still a question mark hanging over services at the hospital.

“It is important to maintain pressure on the trust and the NHS commissioning body to ensure clinical services are not just retained at WGH but where possible enhanced.”

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