If you ever needed a reminder of the future ‘skills gap’ facing the Furness area, the news from St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston, brings it sharply into focus.

Despite the best efforts of the hospice, it has been unable to recruit a doctor to work in palliative care, and the end result has been that it must now temporarily close the service to new in-patients.

This is a very worrying development. For chief executive Val Stangoe to declare that it has been one of the most ‘challenging’ months in the hospice’s 30-year history, tells you all you need to know.

It’s all very well existing to offer a service, but if you can’t get the right professionals to provide that service, then the service itself is undermined.

St Mary’s Hospice is not alone in being unable to recruit people to come and work here.

BAE Systems faces a similar battle, as does Furness General Hospital and those providing social work.

Despite being a great area to live and visit, for some, we are simply too far off-the-beaten track for them to want to come and have a career here.

A longer term view needs to be taken of this issue because with an ageing population in Cumbria, this type of problem will become the norm, rather than the exception.

More must be done to ‘grow and keep’ our own, and it needs to start soon.