Help defend Cumbria's NHS - oppose the 'Success Regime'

26 November 2016

Local Green Party members and supporters will join other groups and members of the public in attending a public consultation meeting to voice opposition to the 'Success Regime', an initiative that would be of serious detriment to Cumbria's NHS.

Carlisle & District Green Party supports the News & Star's Save Our Services campaign which highlights:

  • Removal of consultant-led maternity care from West Cumberland Hospital is unsafe
  • Cumbria cannot afford to lose beds from its community hospitals
  • Patients should not have to undertake risky transfers for care
  • Health chiefs have not addressed serious concerns raised across Cumbria

The consultation meeting will be held on Tuesday 29th Nov, 6:30pm at Crown & Mitre Hotel, English St, Carlisle.

The below is taken from a briefing document produced by rs21 Carlisle:


What is the Success Regime and why does it matter?

The Success Regime describes itself as a 'national initiative designed to support the most challenged health and care systems across the country'.
In other words Whitehall ('national initiative') plans to impose massive cuts on the local NHS ('challenged health and care system'), and they do not trust the local NHS to do it.

They say that Cumbria is spending beyond its means – but our 'means' are directed by Whitehall and they are inadequate. It is their fault that we have a £70m hole in the budget. But rather than address the problem they are imposing a cut to the NHS of 32% by 2022.

Not only do they want to cut, but their proposals about Integrated Care Communities are nothing short of top down social engineering that will change health and social care for good.

We believe that:

The current consultation is flawed. The document:

  1. Does not recognise that the underlying cause of the problem is Cumbria's low population density. Services for people mostly living in a scattered rural area can only be improved by additional resources. Comparisons with other areas are invalid.
  2. Does not recognise the extent to which current economic recession, on top of historic economic disadvantage and gross inequalities of wealth impact on the health of people in Cumbria, and can only be effectively addressed by additional resources.
  3. Cloaks its proposal for a 17% cut in acute hospital beds behind the political story that there are no alternatives.
  4. Calls itself a consultation, but admits that consultation is subsidiary to 'clinical, financial and practical considerations', and flies in the face of the people of West Cumbria, including the petition 22,000 of them signed a few months ago.
  5. All proposals for both Maternity and Children's Services are unacceptable.

The fundamental point which the Success Regime ignores is that illnesses in young children and foetuses progress much more rapidly and unpredictably than in adults. What appears to be a minor illness initially can progress within hours into a life-threatening one. This has been the whole basis for the steadily improving maternity and children's services and the remarkable reductions in perinatal and childhood mortality over the past three generations.

The Success Regime proposals are sexist.

  • The majority of proposals relate to maternity and children's services. Women will be disproportionally affected by the proposals. Women's lives are disproportionately being risked. The consultation suggests that it will take 48 minutes to get from Whitehaven to Carlisle. Those of us who live here know that this is a massive underestimation.
  • The removal of some of the key services for expectant mothers and children from West Cumberland Hospital to Carlisle, as recommended by the Success Regime, makes no sense. There are significant risks that the additional journey time for mothers in labour and acutely ill children will produce worse outcomes. This isn't 'rocket science'. Any pregnant woman or parent knows the serious risks involved in delaying treatment for these groups of patients.

Cumbria is a laboratory experiment in imposing austerity on the NHS.

This is not just about Cumbria. There is a national crisis of NHS funding, and ruining the NHS in Cumbria will not solve that. So why are they interested in starting in Cumbria? They see us as a soft target, and will export what they learn here to the rest of the country.

How should we respond?

Currently, this is their consultation, on their terms. Why do we feel the need to answer their questions rather than ask our own? We should resist and make the following demands:

  • Reject the whole paper and demand they withdraw all proposals;
  • Propose an independent community and worker led audit into the NHS in Cumbria. This would be made up of citizens, the BMA and the health service unions and will look into the health needs of Cumbria and what changes should be made with the right amount of funding;
  • Insist that staff and public consultation events are merged rather than falsely dividing this consultation;
  • Insist that consultation meetings should be held in the hospitals so staff on shift and patients can attend along with the public;
  • Reject the principle that we are spending above our means;
  • Call for the abolition of the title Success Regime and insist that we will not be patronised by Whitehall.

What next?

  • Make your voice heard at the consultation meeting 6.30pm, 29th November, Crown & Mitre, English Street, Carlisle.
  • Join the Facebook group Save Cumbria's NHS or keep an eye on Cumbrian newspapers to hear about future public meetings, consultations and to plan our response.
  • Speak to family, friends and colleagues and get them involved – this is everyone's issue.

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