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MP calls for south Cumbria to be given its own out-of-hours GP service

March 29, 2010 12:00 AM

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today written to the Sue Page, Chief Executive of NHS Cumbria, calling on her to provide the South Lakes with its own out of hours GP service, and safeguard the out-of-hours call centre at Kendal's Westmorland General Hospital.

Last year, Baycall (the former Morecambe Bay out-of-hours GP service) merged with CuDoc (the former north Cumbria out-of-hours GP service) to form Cumbria Health on Call (CHoC).

The call centre for the former Baycall area is based in Kendal, and that for the former CuDoc area is in Carlisle. However, CHoC managers have now decided to close the Kendal call centre and consolidate their operation in Carlisle - putting 115 jobs at risk.

Tim Farron has launched a bid to protect those jobs and to ensure that the out-of-hours call centre stays at Kendal. He has formally asked NHS Cumbria to remove south Cumbria from CHoC and replace it with an independent out-of-hours service to operate in the South Lakes and Barrow, based on the old Baycall model.

Speaking this morning, Tim said: "I'm today calling on NHS Cumbria to step in and provide the South Cumbria with its own distinctive out-of-hours GP service which would keep the call centre at Westmorland General Hospital open, and ensure a local solution to our out-of-hours medical needs.

"Dozens of local jobs could be put at risk if CHoC are permitted to close the Kendal call centre. Many of us feared that when the north and south of Cumbria's services merged, it would end up as a northern take over of the south - this new plan realises our worst fears. The only answer is to allow south Cumbria to have its own local service, operated from Kendal - this would have the added advantage of safeguarding the jobs at Kendal.

"NHS Cumbria has a duty of care to local patients and to staff. The only way we can ensure both is by south Cumbria having its own service."