MP writes to coroner to uncover the truth about hospital trust decision
Local MP Tim Farron has today written to the south of Cumbria coroner; asking him to help uncover the truth of the impact of removing coronary care and other acute services from Westmorland General Hospital.
Tim led the campaign against the closure of acute services at Westmorland General, and has continued to campaign for their return ever since closure took place in August 2008.
The Coroner could shed light on whether there has been an increase in deaths on arrival at hospital, as a result of the Trust's decision to close acute services at Westmorland General.
In his letter to Ian Smith, Tim said: "As you will be aware there are presently four concurrent reviews being carried out regarding the Morecambe Bay University Hospitals Trust (MBUHT)
Delayed outpatient's follow up appointments, Diagnostics and a review of governance, these three under the auspices of Monitor, and a further review recently announced by the Health Service Ombudsman.
Added to this there is a separate review being carried out by the North West Ambulance Service, Which followed a meeting between Cumbrian Health Professionals, myself and Simon Burns MP, the Health Minister. This was to look at the impact of relocating the Coronary Care Unit from The Westmorland General Hospital to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. A critical part of this review is to assess the impact on Patient safety.
Hopefully this review will end the debate within the local community which has raged strongly for five years."
Tim continued: "I would ask you to use your good offices to help me to establish the following:
- The figures for deaths-on-arrival for each of the last 10 years at Westmorland General, Lancaster Royal Infirmary and Furness General Hospital?
- The figures for deaths at the coronary care units for each of the last 10 years at Westmorland General, Lancaster Royal Infirmary and Furness General Hospital?
- The figures for deaths of patients 30 days after discharge for each of the last 10 years at Westmorland General, Lancaster Royal Infirmary and Furness General Hospital?"
Commenting, Tim said: "The hospital trust has four separate reviews going on at the same time; local residents are seeing a drip, drip feed of negative stories that is eroding trust in the managers of the hospital. As local residents, we have a right to have the best possible health services and my letter to the coroner is an attempt to discover whether the safety of local people was reduced by the Trust's decision. The recent problems at the trust have proven us right when we said four years ago that closure of the heart unit at Westmorland General would create a knock on effect at Lancaster and Barrow that would be difficult and dangerous. It gives me no pleasure to say 'I told you so'. I want health bosses to bring back acute services to Westmorland General as a step towards fixing some of the many problems being highlighted at the hospital trust."