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October 8, 2007 3:00 PM

Local MP Tim Farron has called for the Acute Service Review to be taken back to the drawing board, after a week of high drama in local health services. Officials from the Primary Care Trust have today demanded that ward 11 at the Westmorland General Hospital is re-opened after the Hospital Trust unilaterally decided to start implementing the outcome of the recent Acute Services Review without reaching agreement with the PCT and Ambulance Trust.

Speaking this evening, Tim said: "The events of the past week have undermined the entire Acute Services Review. By their actions, the Hospitals Trust has lost the confidence of the PCT, of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and more importantly of local people. The whole process should be taken back to the drawing board so that the PCT and Ambulance Trust - neither of whom existed when the review was undertaken - can have a fair input into the process. Local people have spoken in their thousands in the past two years, and their views must also be taken into account."

Mr Farron is also concerned that the Hospitals Trust might now use staffing issues to get their way, and close ward 11.

He continued: "It wouldn't be the first time that the Hospitals Trust had closed a ward temporarily because of staffing issues, for it to never open again. The Hospitals Trust seems to think that it has no control over the number of staff leaving the hospital - but if it simply put a stop to the ward closures staff would feel much more secure in their jobs, and the number of staff leaving would fall. The Hospitals Trust must not use staffing as an excuse to close wards, and should start actively recruiting to fill vacancies."