Speaking at a meeting of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee, Neil Hughes challenged NHS bosses on whether the clock should start ticking before key changes have happened.
It follows the controversial Success Regime consultation about the future of health services in north and west Cumbria, which put forward three possible options for maternity.
Following widespread opposition, the NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body agreed not to centralise services in Carlisle immediately.
Instead they haven given Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital 12 months – starting from April 1 this year – to recruit key staff.
However the option they agreed (option 1) will still see some changes to the service currently available in Whitehaven.
Although consultant-led maternity will be retained for now, changes to paediatrics mean that between 100 and 200 more births will have to take place at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary.
Yet no start date for these new arrangements has yet been agreed, prompting concern that the 12-month countdown should be delayed.
Mr Hughes said: “Option 1 was about testing the viability over 12 months. I do not see how that can happen if this option isn’t in place.”
He went as far as suggesting that, if a decision about maternity is made before the new arrangements have been in place for a year, it could be a ‘substantial variation’ of what was previously agreed.
Article from Times and Star, 28 February 2018