Thursday, 03 September 2015

Secretary of state to review South Cumbria vascular services decision

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to keep specialist vascular services as close to South Cumbria as possible have been thrown a lifeline.

‘wake-up call’ MP Tim Farron

Cumbria County Council’s health scrutiny committee has thrown a spanner in the works over plans to take top-level surgery away from Morecambe Bay, after voting to refer the decision to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

A regional review of vascular services has proposed centralising specialist services at three centres in Preston, Blackburn and Carlisle, while more routine surgery and outpatient appointments continue to take place at patients’ local hospitals.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust provides top-level care for South Cumbria’s patients at its Royal Lancaster Infirmary, and had applied to be one of the three sites.

An appeal against the decision not to select it failed last month.

Last week, Lancashire county councillors voted nine to four in favour of the plan.

But, following heavy lobbying from campaigners, Cumbria County Council’s health scrutiny committee this week decided not to give it their backing.

They have asked the secretary of state to personally review the case, after being pressed by Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron, to take that course of action.

Mr Farron now plans to meet urgently with Mr Hunt to discuss the issue.

Mr Farron said: “This announcement is a welcome step and I thank the councillors for making their decision.

“I’m pleased they have listened to residents and parish councils. The decision was down to their hard work and campaigning. I don’t think I would have been able to make the case I have without them.

“The next step is to lobby the secretary of state and try and make him see that the vascular plan is flawed and very dangerous.

“The plan is extremely concerning and I am very worried about the risk this might pose to people across the south of Cumbria.

“I think it will put lives at risk and I will continue to do everything I can to fight these plans.”

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