West Cumbrians’ VOICE for Healthcare was formally set up in September 2015 to reflect concerns about health and care services available to the people of West Cumbria. Greater integration of health and social care was needed to address these problems and was the only way a sustainable acute hospital could remain at Whitehaven..We wanted to work alongside health professionals to find solutions. A formal constitution was drawn up to ensure accountability and transparency see constitution here.
VOICE recognises the challenges of managing healthcare in isolated populations and largely rural areas but also believes in the principle of equal access to healthcare - we should all have access to emergency and other acute health services in a safe and reasonable time.
VOICE considered there WAS a way forward and in 2015 presented a discussion paper on a fully integrated sustainable model of healthcare. This new model would break down barriers between the different organisations. GPs and clinics, community care, health charities, the ambulance service, hospitals and specialist care would work together under a single budget.
Health care would be delivered closer to home wherever possible and acute services would be delivered locally.
We are a non-political group which aims to make sure that the interests and concerns of West Cumbrians are taken into account by health decision-makers. VOICE members have between them many decades of experience in the health sector and in work for communities in West Cumbria. This gives us a unique ‘foot in the door’ to lobby decision-makers and to work in partnership with the community, the health and care sectors (both government and charitable) and with local government on ways of improving healthcare for us all.
We worked with the Success Regime to develop plans and, although disappointed with the outcome of their work, we continue to work with, scrutinise and lobby health and care organisations on behalf of the communities of West Cumbria and to play a part in shaping services through the Working Together initiative.