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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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‘We can turn hospital crisis into opportunity’ says MP for Millom

THE residents of Millom have been forced to put up with losing several key services in recent years – but when uncertainty emerged over the future of its hospital they were not prepared to stand by.

After thousands of local voices came together in anger, focus is now on the future of primary healthcare in Millom.

Fears over the future of Millom Community Hospital began circulating in April after the delay of the movement of Waterloo House Surgery, in Wellington Street, to new premises on the hospital site.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was forced to close to new admissions the nine-bed unit, which provides medical, nursing, rehabilitation and end of life care to sub-acute patients after problems recruiting new GPs to Millom left it with inadequate cover.

Although CPFT denied the hospital would permanently close, around 2,000 residents took to the streets on May 7 to protest against the move. The march was organised by Save Millom Community Hospital and backed by Copeland MP and shadow health minister Jamie Reed.

The hospital is now up and running again after GP cover was drafted from Abbey View, the unit run by CPFT at Furness General Hospital in Barrow.

But at a public meeting in The Beggar’s Theatre last week, CPFT and NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group apologised to the community for a lack of communication and a slow response to concerns.

Save Millom Community Hospital grilled trust representatives and came out satisfied with the re-opening of the unit.

But founding member of the group, Jenny Brumby, said there was no room for complacency.

She said: “I feel happy at the moment, and things are moving in the right direction, but I'm still going to be keeping my eyes on the situation. Actions speak louder than words, and if they can deliver on the things they've said we'll be pleased.

“They've got a lot of work to do and we hope to work closely with them to get what we want.”

Mr Reed said: “We can now turn this crisis into an opportunity. I'm establishing a working group which will consist of the CCG, local NHS trusts, local GPs, councillors and others who will now work on developing a plan to not only ensure that healthcare provision in the town is sustainable, but better than it is now.

“Plan A is for NHS partners to assess whether they can borrow the £10m that was earmarked for the new hospital build before government cuts. If this can't be done, Plan B is to still improve healthcare provision with whatever money we can find.”

Dr John Howarth, GP and director of service improvement at CPFT, said: “I’m committed to working with the GP practice, the community and our health partners to find models of care that spends more of the Millom pound in Millom on services delivered locally.

“We are committed to working as part of the South Copeland Health and Social Care Group being convened by Jamie Reed to find solutions. If we work together on this, I’m confident we can tackle these local healthcare issues.”

The GP Partners at Waterloo House said they were “excited” to have moved into the hospital.

A statement read: “We are looking forward to working from the site as it will provide a better service for patients with more opportunity for integrated working between healthcare professionals and to the future development of a new health centre in Millom. We hope this is the start of an exciting process of working together to secure the future of primary care in Millom. We also hope it will attract new doctors to come and work in the area and would like to thank the community for their vocal support for their local health services.”

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