MP raises concern with local hospitals trust over letter
South Lakes MP Tim Farron has asked for a meeting with local trust bosses after a letter released by Chair Sir David Henshaw and Chief Executive Eric Morton caused alarm.
A letter called 'Update on recovery plan and financial challenges' laid out the precarious financial situation of the crisis hit trust and worried local health campaigners as it refused to rule out cuts to services. In January the minutes of a University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust board meeting, the trust's Director of Finance laid out the current financial position of the hospital: "The financial performance in September was worse than planned by £201k, with a deficit of £7k incurred compared to a planned surplus of £194k. The deficit for the year to date is £1,153k which is £799k worse than planned at this stage."
Recently fears have been raised over the future ofFurnessGeneralHospital's maternity unit, after bosses responsible for running FGH refused to rule out downgrading services. Tim wrote to trust bosses last week urging bosses at the NHS trust to use an ongoing estates review as an opportunity to bring more services to Westmorland General.
In his letter Tim suggested bringing back planned surgical operations as a start.
The Trust stated in their letter:
'When we arrived at the Trust, our first priority was to get a grip on the quality issues facing our hospitals and ensure the services we run are safe. The safety of our patients is our number one priority, and always will be, so we have invested to stabilise our services and ensure they are safe. As a result of this, we are left with a serious financial consequence.'
The Trust continues saying: 'We explained to our Council of Governors the actions that we have taken to avert a serious financial challenge in 2012/13. This does not mean that we have a substantial debt at the moment; it means that if we do nothing, we could be faced with a significant financial challenge.'
'We can only spend our money once; therefore we will find savings through getting it right first time, every time. This isn't just about internal processes but also about where and how services are delivered. This doesn't mean that any decisions have been made to close or remove any of our services because as we have said, any recommended changes from the reviews would be made with input from the public and then full consultation. It simply means that we have to look at where we can do things differently.
'Another way where we will have to find savings is to reduce duplicated waste from our hospitals.'
The new management team at the hospital are now instigating major reviews and a turnaround plan. Both the CQC and Monitor, the two major health regulators, recently intervened and forced major changes at the trust. They published a diagnostic review; a governance review; and the review of the outpatients follow up appointments issue. Following these reviews, experts continue to work with the Trust to design detailed action plans to address issues identified.
Tim said: "In the last few months we have seen the return of services and our successful campaigns which have brought new services such as our excellent new chemotherapy centre to Westmorland General but I know we can bring even more. We must keep campaigning together to win these services and continue to improve our hospital.
I will continue to fight to bring more services to the hospital. I've recently called for the trust managers to bring surgical services to Westmorland General Hospital. I would like an urgent meeting with trust bosses to discuss this letter and make sure we defend our much loved hospital."