2. West, North and East Cumbria

What issues have been raised about this STP?

Health planners are trying to reduce NHS deficits and think about ways to re-organise care. However controlling deficits could prevent facilities being developed that can cope with the health and care social needs of local people.

Proposed changes

The end of consultant-led maternity care at West Cumberland Hospital has been proposed.

Downgrading of West Cumberland Hospital so that only low-risk services are available, with Cumberland Infirmary Carlisle providing high risk services.

Merging all acute stroke services into a single hyper-acute unit at Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle.

Bed Cuts proposed at West Cumberland Hospital inpatient unit and eight community hospitals. Reducing bed numbers from 133 to 104.

Growing Concerns

The changes in the hospitals in this area are of concern due to issues with the ambulance service in the area; the service was ordered to make safety improvements in January 2017 by the Care Quality Commission. One of the major issues was paramedic vacancy rates.

In a letter to hospital bosses, the head of the North West Ambulance service, Derek Cartwright said he does not believe the controversial plans to transfer women more than 40 miles while in labour are clinically safe. The letter also included reservations about plans to centralise maternity consultants in Carlisle, leaving only a midwife-led unit in Whitehaven.

What are the proposed aims of the STP

  • Eliminate the projected 2020/21 deficit of £168 million;
  • Encourage prevention, self-care and promotion of independence;
  • Invest in services which prevent, reduce or divert demand for hospital to reduce the need to send people a long way from home, and reduce hospital admissions;
  • Stabilise and expand primary care and increase the role of community pharmacies;
  • Optimise care outside hospitals through a programme to implement “Integrated Care Communities” (ICCs) and wrap around specialist community provision.

Like other areas they plan to transfer services out of hospital and into the community. The concern is that cuts in hospital care will be made, helping to achieve savings, but without proper investment in community health services.

Further information

The STP for West, North and East Cumbria is more advanced than many as it has been built on the ongoing Success Regime project.

The Success Regime plan includes consolidation of the hospital sector and a public consultation has already taken place on some major changes.

As one of the most advanced areas in terms of STP, the area has been awarded capital funding of £30m - £50m to improve access to chemo and radiotherapy by establishing a brand new cancer centre, complete with new equipment at Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

In addition, West Cumberland Hospital will get £30m - £50m extra capital investment to refurbish or rebuild parts of the hospital estate to bring it up to date and between £1m - £5m is going to support the development of eight Integrated Care Communities – local hubs that bring together GPs, social care, community services, mental health services and specialist hospital consultants to support people closer to where they live.