Monday, October 09, 2017

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

I attended the Cumbria Health Scrutiny committee meeting today.

The full agenda and papers for the meeting can be found here.

We have not yet heard the outcome of Jeremy Hunt's reference of the committee's call-in of maternity services to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel. (IRP) I know Trudy Harrison MP is among those pressing for a resolution of this.

But there was a clear and, in my opinion helpful, response from the North Cumbria NHS Clinical Commissioning Group when members of the committee - quite reasonably - requested assurances that work by the local NHS will not prejudice or be biased against the option which local people support, to maintain consultant-led maternity services at both Carlisle and at West Cumberland Hospital.

Peter Rooney, who is the Chief Operating Officer of NHS North Cumbria CCG (the statutory body with responsibility for deciding what services will be provided in North, West and East Cumbrai) said very clearly that the aim of the CCG is to maintain a consultant-led maternity unit at West Cumberland Hospital in safe and sustainable manner.

It is of course right that bodies like the Health Scrutiny Committee and Healthwatch should challenge the CCG and the Cumbria NHS on how they are meeting aims like that, and I am neither criticising those who ask questions on the subject or suggesting that we should be complacent. On the contrary for people to state frequently how much we need and depend on these services is helpful.

Nevertheless, it is also important to recognise when positive responses are given and I thought the answers given today were useful and positive.

Clearly when the IRP recommendation and Jeremy Hunt's response are published we will have to look at them very carefully but the key task is to work with the local NHS to ensure we get the best service for patients.

There was a lot of positive material presented today about "working together" (known in the current jargon as "co-production.") Unfortunately a lot of it was couched in the sort of jargon, littered with acronyms and works like "novation" which is not well presented for most of the public to understand. This is something we need to work on.

So here is a bit of plain English - the Working Together group which brings together NHS leaders and staff and patient interests to talk about how we can improve the service is holding its next meeting this Thursday (12th October) at Lakes College from 6pm to 8pm and it is open to the public.

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