‘More needs to be done to tackle issues’ says West Cumbrian’s Voice for Health Care

voice for healthcareCarole Woodman reports back on the Voice for Health Care initiative

WEST Cumbria’s Voice for Health Care was set up to ensure that the community were fully involved in the discussions and decisions being taken by the Success Regime.

The problems in North Cumbria are across the whole health system, Community, GPs, Social Care as well as the acute hospitals, and can only be tackled together.

Main issues include unacceptable gaps in quality, spending more money than allocated, difficulties attracting and retaining staff and loss of public confidence.

What is apparent after attending recent workshops is that the solutions to our problems have all been discussed previously but not put into practise.

For example the Cumbria Alliance Health and Care Workforce summit in May 2014; those attending agreed a way forward – working collaboratively, one team with an integrated workforce and training hub, but there has been very little progress implementing the recommendations.

So what will be different now?

The Success Regime brings together local and national bodies to tackle these issues, bringing in external expertise to design clinical pathways suitable for our rural and isolated populations.

It also has the power to ask The Royal Colleges to look at Guidelines to ensure they are appropriate in our rural settings.

While there has not been any significant opportunity for the community to be involved in these discussions, there has been a lot of valuable work going on to which the Voice has been part of, along with other community representatives.

We presented our model of integrated care at the recent West Cumbria Community Forum and are arranging a meeting with NCUH to discuss this further.

Our ideas match others that have been discussed previously by the Trusts, so we have a very real opportunity to take this forward.

John Howarth presented the integrated way forward of a population based Accountable Care System for North Cumbria with integrated clinical networks West, North and East based around the 3 hospitals (WCH, CIC and Penrith).

These would be teams without walls working in to the community from the hospital. With Place Based Integrated Teams (PCCs) built round GP practise lists and natural communities.

Currently work is going on to identify those patients that don’t need to go to CIC, bringing back minor trauma for example to WCH.

There is a lot of mistrust in the community and we think the Success Regime should be more open about the very real positive discussions happening and possible solutions discussed.

We were pleased that the open letter from the CCG, NCUHT et al was published confirming the commitment to 24/7 A&E.

We also believe they should be involving more people in these discussions at this early stage before the pre-consultation and consultation events occur, because the only way we will have an effective health care system for the population of West Cumbria is if we empower our communities to fully understand the problems and get involved in delivering the solutions.

Healthwatch are starting these conversations but we think there should be more.

If you have any suggestions about how we can fully engage everyone in these vital discussions, please contact us:


Or write to:

West Cumbrian’s Voice for Health Care

c/o Age UK De Lucy Centre,

Market Place,


CA22 2AF,

More details are on the website: www.cumbriansvoiceforhealth.com