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REPORT SAYS LOCAL HEALTH TRUSTS PUT MONEY BEFORE PATIENT SERVICE - MP DEMANDS CHANGE IN PRIORITIES

October 15, 2009 12:00 AM

Local MP Tim Farron has expressed his concern at the results of local health trusts' annual health check which appear to suggest they are more concerned about financial management than patient care.

The health check, conducted by an independent watchdog - the Care Quality Commission - show that NHS Cumbria, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust have all improved their financial management over the last twelve months, but that the quality of care has slipped - in the case of the mental health trust to 'weak'.

The hospitals trust was deemed to fail on the prevention of the dangerous MRSA infection. Speaking following the release of the health check, Tim said: "My personal experience has always been that our hospitals are clean and well run, but this finding is deeply worrying - it's vital that all of our local hospitals are subject to a deep clean and that prevention of hospital infections is made a priority by managers."

The mental health trust was given the worst report of all of our local trusts. In particular it has failed in its provision of mental health support for young people and in its support for older people with dementia who need appropriate care. Tim said: "This particular report comes as no surprise I'm afraid. I have spoken only last week to several parents whose children have mental health needs and who cannot access proper services. The mental health trust has scored excellent on financial management and weak on patient services - this is a betrayal of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. If it is not addressed immediately then our mental health services deserve to be put in to 'special measures'."

One of NHS Cumbria's black marks was its failure to ensure the meeting of ambulance response times - however, this could be solved now that Tim has persuaded health bosses to allow many 999 ambulances to return to Westmorland General from the end of this month. NHS Cumbria also failed to meet the standard for access to NHS dentistry. Tim said: "Again there are no surprises here - we always knew that the implementation of the acute services review and move of the ambulance control centre has had an impact on ambulance response times, and we are well aware of the problems local residents have in accessing NHS dentists. NHS Cumbria should be congratulated for the progress they have made on these issues, but this report is a reminder that there is much more work to be done."

Speaking about his concern on our local trusts' priorities, Tim said: "I obviously understand the need for our local trusts to live within their means, but the headline from these reports is obviously that patient care is suffering as the trusts strive to meet their financial targets. Most people on the street would think that they have their priorities completely the wrong way round.

"Over the coming weeks and months I will be pressing our trusts to make sure they change their way of working so that by the time next year's health check is published the situation has changed."