North Cumbria NHS trust 'squandered money'

Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle
Image caption The trust runs Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle

Nurses, unions and other medical staff employed by a Cumbria NHS trust have said they have lost confidence in its ability to provide services.

A joint statement claims North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has "squandered" money, including £466 to replace a light fitting.

The trust runs Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

It said patient safety was "at the centre of everything it does".

The trust is trying to make savings of £15m.

'Patient care suffering'

The statement has been issued jointly by trust staff who are members of the Royal College of Nursing, Unison, Unite, the Royal College of Physiotherapy, the GMB, the Society of Radiographers, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

The statement said: "It is the professional opinion of our members that the trust's cuts and restructuring programmes are not in the interests of patients or the public living and working in Cumbria.

"Furthermore, it is our position that the quality and safety of patient care is suffering as a direct result of mismanagement of existing resources at the trust."

It adds that staff morale is at an "all-time low", stress levels are high through over-work, and the management is proposing further cuts while it is claimed wards are already under-staffed.

In a statement in response, North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said patient safety was "at the centre of everything it does".

It added: "The trust directors meet formally with union representatives each month to discuss key issues facing the trust and to manage any concerns they have. In addition to this, the trust directors are happy to meet with the full-time officers concerned to discuss their concerns in greater detail.

"The trust will not, however, move away from exploring areas that will save money for the taxpayer that could involve improving the outcomes of the patients we care for."

Maternity services

The unions' statement comes as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) looks into care at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, following reports in July and December 2011 highlighting concerns over maternity and emergency care.

The foundation trust, which manages four hospitals in Lancashire and Cumbria, is already being investigated over the deaths of babies at Furness General Hospital and was criticised in 2011 for delays in emergency treatment at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

The CQC said it would not include maternity services in its investigation as the trust was already "taking steps" to address concerns in that area.

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