Cumbria

West Cumbria maternity services: Consultant-led unit to stay

West Cumberland Infirmary, Whitehaven Image copyright Google
Image caption The service has been under review for 12 months, after several years of campaigning.

Consultant-led maternity services are to be kept at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital, NHS bosses say.

The decision follows a 12-month review into the sustainability of services and concerns about potential risks to women and babies at the West Cumbria site.

North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said issues with recruiting trained staff had improved.

Andrea Murray, who campaigned for consultant-led services to remain, said "common sense had prevailed".

The future of maternity services in West Cumbria have been in doubt for several years amid problems with recruiting and retaining properly-trained staff.

'Real difference'

Dr David Rogers, medical director for NHS North Cumbria CCG, said: "The CCG has been committed to providing sustainable consultant-led services and we are pleased to see the hard work of a lot of people over a number of years being recognised.

"There have been problems recruiting and it is clear that is improving, and there has been considerable commitment from the staff to make things work."

Stephen Eames, chief executive of the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust said: "I am pleased the review has recognised the work we have been doing to recruit staff.

"Our medical vacancies are significantly reduced from 2016, although we know there are still challenges in key areas.

"We have come a long way, and trying new ways of working with our community is making a real difference."

Mrs Murray said: "The decision is obviously really good news. Common sense has finally prevailed, so we are pleased that this has ended as it has.

"It will be a relief to many ladies who considered not having children if they did not have access to consultants at West Cumberland."

The review by the Independent Review Group (IRG) noted the challenges faced by the service but were "impressed by the commitment shown to overcome the recruitment challenges, including some innovative approaches."

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