Phill Roberts on West Cumbria Hospital


Health & Social Care Provision

During the thirty years I have lived and worked in Cumbria our Health Services have lurched from one crisis to another, none more urgent than the current crisis, despite the hard work of our nurses and health care workers.

I have benefited from some amazing care from my GP, at the Cumbria Infirmary and – when my grandchildren were born – in the West Cumberland Hospital. At times I have wondered if I have been looked after by a different health care system than the one being reported on in the press. However the evidence of system failure is now overwhelming. Indeed much of the NHS is in crisis.

Our community has during this time had many health and social care interventions both national and local that can only be viewed in hindsight as temporary measures covering up long-term problems.
I have attended the meetings of health care professionals in locality meetings that eventually established the Clinical Commissioning Group, as a community representative before Healthwatch took over the role of community engagement.

It was evident during the meetings that the organisations involved in the provision of our health care were competitors in health care provision and that opportunities for engaging in true partnership development would be limited. This was brought into sharp focus when I asked questions about double funding of services and overarching responsibilities; there appeared to be no willingness to look at a whole systems approach,(shared budgets etc.) at the time. Although health care professionals understood the concept of joined-up thinking, they were focused on their own budgets and responsibilities at the time.

The commissioning process has developed a competition model within health and social care that, far from driving up standards of service, has increasingly led to a health and social care model that treats patients as consumers of services, inevitably driving down costs to the lowest common denominator and often failing to address the individual needs of patients.

We now have the implementation of yet another strategy, optimistically titled “The Success Regime” and overseen by yet more national bodies. Whether this new intervention can establish a more collaborative health and social care model able to deliver the services needed by our community only time will tell.

We have new facilities at the West Cumbria Hospital, a new Community Hospital in Cockermouth and a number of new community initiatives in health and social care. However I remain sceptical about how or even whether these services are working collaboratively or in a joined up model of service delivery.

How to contact West Cumbria Liberal Democrats:

Tel. Phill Roberts on 01697321609 or 07730284529
Email: <[email protected]> Twitter : phillrobertsli1

Phill Roberts is the current chair of West Cumbria Liberal Democrats.  This article was recently published in the Whitehaven News.

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