On April 10 The Westmorland Gazette launched its ‘Hands off our Hospital’ campaign.
It was aimed at safeguarding services at Kendal’s Westmorland General Hospital. It sought assurances that GPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust would protect the future of WGH; that the site would not be transferred or ‘gifted’ to a third party and services and staff would remain in the hands of the NHS.
It came in the wake of an ongoing review, which aims to create a long-term plan for healthcare around the bay.
The newspaper launched the campaign after two consultants raised concerns about WGH’s future after attending a briefing where they said chief executive of UHMBT Jackie Daniel said services at the site could be moved at Lancaster and the idea of WGH being gifted to to a ‘social enterprise’ was discussed.
Since then the response from our readers has been amazing.
More than 3,000 have taken the time to complete and send us a coupon from the newspaper, while nearly 100 others have completed the coupon online.
This week the Gazette handed over the coupons to the Better Care Together (BCT) team, which is carrying out the review.
It could be argued the newspaper jumped the gun by launching the campaign. While the BCT team yesterday said it was pleased so many people were interested in services at WGH, perhaps it would have been happier if we had held off until any proposals were in the public domain.
However, we believe it was right to launch when we did. The hospital and the services it provides are an essential part of the fabric of this community.
We wanted decision makers to know the strength of feeling now - before they came up with proposals for the public to consider.
In the meantime, the fantastic response should leave health chiefs in no doubt - local people want to see our hospital remain at the heart of healthcare in this area.