January has been a long and frustrating month. Not just because of the appalling weather but more so because of the seeming lack of progress of the Success Regime. I say “seeming” because one of the disappointing facts of the process is the lack of openness and transparency. This in spite of promises and also in spite of the positive personal meetings we have had with members of the Success Regime.
So far we are none the wiser as to the direction in which plans for future health provision in West Cumbria are going. Because of the limited time that is left I am worried that decisions are being made behind closed doors without proper engagement. The engagement so far has been piecemeal and poor. The fear is that we might be presented with a ‘fait accompli'. Without knowing in which way the plans are going we cannot engage in a meaningful discussion (or battle!) about what we need in West Cumbria. (see our discussion paper)
A lot of people were happy to see Ann Farrar and Jeremy Rushmer leave (respectively CEO and medical Director of the Hospitals Trust) but I am not so sure. Sometimes it is better to keep the ‘devil-you-know’. I actually think it is a bad omen. They have done the dirty work by downgrading West Cumberland Hospital and make it a place where people (doctors especially) don’t want to work. The new CEO (Stephen Eames) could wash his hands and use the recruitment crisis to even further downgrade our hospital.
I realise that it all sounds rather negative. I know that there are people in the Success Regime who are fighting for West Cumbria. Let us hope that their voices and the combined voices of the Campaign Group, the Whitehaven News and ourselves are heard. We need to see what the plans are before they become set in stone and the people need to be given the opportunity and the time to have their say.