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March 15, 2010 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today called on the chief executive of NHS North West, Mike Farrar, to step in and suspend plans which would remove 42% of the work from the Westmorland General Hospital's out-of-hours call centre.

Kendal is currently the base for the call centre which covers GP out-of-hours services for all of South Cumbria and North Lancashire. However, as a result of moves by NHS North Lancashire earlier this month, the North Lancashire part of the centre will be contracted to a private company called Assura, who are registered on Guernsey.

Losing 42% of their work will put 115 jobs connected to the Kendal call centre at risk. The new contract is set to start on 1 April. With just 2 weeks to go until the new service is set to start, Assura have so far failed to show where their call centre will be, who will be staffing it or how people can get in touch with them.

If the North Lancashire side of the operation goes, it is quite likely that the remaining 58% of work will not be sufficient to allow the Kendal centre to continuing operating, which could mean that the entire operation closes down and moves to Carlisle.

Tim said, "Assura seem to have been given the contract but are providing no confidence that they can actually run it. I want NHS North West to step in and suspend the handover so that the Kendal call centre can be allowed to continue providing their excellent service. Dozens of local jobs could be put at risk if Assura are allowed to take over the contract in 2 weeks time, with no evidence that they can actually provide a decent service!"