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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Election winner reveals hope for future of Cumbria healthcare

THE winner of an election to represent the public in Cumbria on a powerful local health body has been announced.

The people of Furness turned out to the Forum, Barrow, last Thursday to vote for a lay representative to sit on the group that holds the purse strings to the area’s health budget.

A total of 177 votes were cast at the Furness Listening Event to choose one of six candidates who applied for the role.

The winner was former GSK employee and member of the Millom Health Action Group, Ian Reed, who secured 59 per cent of the vote.

He will now sit on the executive board of NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group Furness Locality.

Another of the six candidates will be appointed by the board.

Dr Arabella Onslow, deputy lead GP for Furness, led the organisation of the elections.

She said: “This is the first time we have offered the public a chance to vote for a lay representative and I was very impressed with the amount of people who turned out to vote. It is encouraging that so many local people care about their local health services and took us up on our offer of giving them a say.”

“Now that one representative has been voted in by the public, the other will be an appointment from the remaining five, taking into account the public’s remaining preferences, but with a view to providing a balance. This was proposed and agreed by all the candidates and the GP leads.”

A busload of candidates from Millom made the journey to Barrow for the vote.

Mr Reed said prior to the election he feels lessons learnt from the controversy surrounding Millom Hospital can benefit the wider area.

He said: “I have been asked by the Millom community to represent them; however I recognise this is a wider role and will not simply involve Millom but the wider Furness area.”

He said he believes priorities in the provision of healthcare have deteriorated, and wants to ensure a proper hierarchy of care.

He said: “I believe we have the opportunity to influence the design of this network of healthcare provision and it is a cause I believe to be extremely important and one to which I believe I can contribute positively.”

The lay representatives will help the GPs and managers in Furness understand what the public’s priorities are and to scrutinise the processes involved in health care delivery.

Elections are planned to take place every year.

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