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Friday, 11 July 2014

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Public in Cumbria given chance to quiz top doctors on NHS treatment

SENIOR Cumbria doctors will face public questioning tomorrow as part of a drive towards greater transparency in the NHS.

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ARABELLA ONSLOW

A public meeting is due to take place at The Lisdoonie Hotel, Abbey Road, Barrow, from 6pm.

Senior GPs from the Furness Locality Executive, staff from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and health campaigners are due to attend.

The meeting is open to everyone and is intended to allow patients to raise concerns about NHS treatment they have received and make it easier for people to have their voices heard.

Dr Arabella Onslow, deputy lead GP for Furness at Cumbria NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said the meeting marked “step one” in a shift towards better public engagement.

She said: “Step one is where we can just come and have a conversation and we will work together and try and establish a dialogue.

“All the key people from Furness will be there. The beginning doesn’t have to be massive and maybe no-one will turn up but when else do you get an opportunity to come and meet GPs about anything wider than your personal problems?”

Dr Onslow said senior clinicians at the NHS in Cumbria had been too wary of facing the public in the past.

“We want to get away from a fear of asking the public. People have been very scared of asking because they fear a big battering from the public – but if the public have a really important issue, surely it’s better to talk about it.

“The concerns of the public are much more nuanced than we think and we don’t have to be overwhelmed by this,” she said.

“If I get shouted at then maybe that’s what I need to hear, but we don’t know what people will want to say. It’s better to go in with a completely open mind.”

Dr Onslow said chief executive of UHMBT Jackie Daniel and communications manager Phil Woodford had been instrumental in helping to arrange the meeting.

“I think this meeting signals a change in dynamic and a surge in confidence that some people and some structures will try for greater transparency,” she said.

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