Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Thursday, 24 July 2008 18:10 UK

Assurances sought over ward cuts

Councillors are seeking assurances from health bosses over a planned shake-up of hospital services in south Cumbria.

NHS officials want to close the last acute medical ward and the coronary care unit at the Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust says serious cases can be better dealt with at larger sites in Lancaster or Barrow.

A delegation of Cumbrian councillors will meet trust bosses on 29 July.

The changes were agreed in principle last year, but members of Cumbria County Council's health and wellbeing scrutiny committee want to be sure there are no "undue risks" to patients involved.

Clinical support

Committee chairman Bert Richardson, said: "Last year, when we agreed the overall package of changes planned at the Westmorland General Hospital, we also received undertakings from the NHS that we would be notified at each key stage so we could check that essential criteria had been met.

"We look forward to hearing what the NHS has now done in preparation for the remaining changes to take place.

"Because the whole purpose of these changes is to provide better health care for patients, we will want to be assured that the changes can take place safely and have the support of leading clinicians - both hospital doctors and GPs."

Mr Richardson said specific concerns centred on whether hospitals in Lancaster and Barrow could handle more patients and whether the ambulance service had enough properly staffed and equipped vehicles.


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