Leaked email: Carlisle and Whitehaven hospital wards to shut

Wards could close at hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven because of a financial crisis, the BBC has learnt.

North Cumbria health trust's chief executive Neil Goodwin said in a leaked email that its financial position had worsened and urgent action was needed.

He said areas to be examined were wards closures, locum consultants no longer being used and short-term staff contracts ending.

Officials said the trust had to make savings of £15.2m in the current year.

The email from the chief executive to all members of staff said: "I regret to inform you the trust's financial position has worsened and urgent, corrective action is now being planned."

It then listed five areas in which the trust would aim to make cutbacks, including ward closures from the beginning of December, reductions in management and a review of the way theatres are used.

'Long-standing problems'

In a statement after the email was leaked, Alistair Mulvey, director of finance at the trust, said: "The trust has had long-standing financial problems over the last decade which have not been addressed, this, in part, has led to the need to be acquired by a more financially-resilient partner.

"In the current year the trust has a savings target of £15.2m and is not making adequate progress to achieve this in the necessary time frames.

"All necessary actions will be discussed and risk assessed with the support of clinical teams."

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said the latest details about the trust's financial state would worry many local residents.

He said: "We frankly can't go on like this."

He added: "We're going to be seeking urgent talks to find out what the scale of the crisis is, and I'll also be writing to the Secretary of State for Health seeking a financial bail-out for the trust."

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