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Thursday, 21 August 2014

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Millom hospital ‘closure’ denied as protesters set to march

A MARCH to “save” a community hospital is due to take place tomorrow – despite trust officials denying its closure.

Up to 2,000 people are expected to take part in the march in support of Millom Community Hospital.

Campaigners set up a Facebook group as well as a petition in response to the temporary closure of the inpatient part of the hospital.

Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust said outpatient services on site, including district nursing and short-term intervention teams, are not affected by the current lack of medical cover.

The last resident patient is due to leave later this week because there are insufficient medical staff to provide the proper inpatient care needed.

Spokeswoman for the Save Millom Community Hospital Facebook group, Jenny McMeekin, 42, of Millom, claims she has heard from “reliable sources” that the hospital is definitely closing.

In a statement on behalf of campaigners, the mum-of-two, said: “They have got nine beds they are not filling. It’s our community. We don’t trust the trust.

“They just want to close the doors. We want to show them our voice and say they are not taking away our hospital.

“We are going to show them the force of Millom. The trust works for us – we are the taxpayer.

“We’re disappointed that there was no public meeting so that we could give them our response to it. There’s not been any transparency about it. We are absolutely outraged. We are going to show them our voice.”

A Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust spokeswoman said that if the trust planned to change a hospital service they would have to hold a public consultation, and that they are to inject £160,000 to upgrade services.

She said: “We just cannot have patients in there when we do not have enough care. We are trying to sort it out as soon as possible.

“We are still working with commissioners and our NHS partners to secure a robust solution for the medical cover for the ward and are currently exploring a number of options.

“We remain committed to resolving the issues as quickly as possible.

“We would like to sincerely thank the local community for their support and will continue to keep people informed of any progress regarding medical cover and the re-opening of the inpatient beds.”

Jamie Reed, MP for Copeland and shadow health minister, said he understands and shares the group’s suspicions over the hospital closing and attended an emergency meeting in Millom to discuss the march.

Mr Reed said: “I have encouraged everyone to join the march – the more the better.

“I understand the residents’ anxiety. I was never told what was going on. I’m to organise a public meeting with the people of Millom and the trust.

“We need to get the new plans on the table and give them a better service.

“They have consistently said it’s not closing but if patients are not being admitted and there’s no time of when it will reopen, then I share their suspicions.”

The march is due leave Lapstone Road at 6pm.

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