Thursday, 03 September 2015

New Furness General Hospital boss relishes ‘big task’

THE new health boss responsible for overseeing the running of Furness General Hospital has said ignoring public opinion on the future of its services would be “a serious mistake”.


John Cowdall has been appointed chairman of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which runs FGH, and will take over the post on February 1.

He joins UHMBT at a time of major change.

Although it is meeting safety and quality standards following problems which saw it inspected and criticised by various health regulators, the trust still has major issues to address. Having had to spend extra money on its turnaround plan, UHMBT needs to claw back £50m over the next five years – the equivalent of £1 for every £5 it spends.

It has to have plans in place for how it will do this by April 2014, and medical staff and managers are working with the county’s commissioners to look at all its services and how they could be changed for the future.

The ongoing review has caused concern among Furness parents who fear one option could be to downgrade Barrow’s maternity unit from being consultant-led to midwife-led, dealing with only the most routine of births.

Questioned about the issue during his first interview, Mr Cowdall said: “Let me assure you that nothing will happen without the most careful consideration and the widest and fullest possible consultation.

“Nothing’s going to be imposed. That would be a very serious mistake and I don’t think I’d be hanging around too long if that was going to be the case.

“The service review is under way now. There is absolutely nothing ruled out and nothing ruled in. No decisions have been made because there is a consultation process to go through.”

Mr Cowdall also reiterated his determination to make sure that, whatever services the commissioners decide they want UHMT to provide, they will be of the highest quality.

He added: “It’s a big task, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

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