£65 million healthinvestment is“fantastic newsfor patients”

Date: Friday 21st July 2017

THE award of more than £65 million to improve health services in North Cumbria over the next three years will mean significant investment in cancer care and the development of integrated care communities (ICCs) to bring services closer to home, say NHS bosses.

Up to £5 million could go on developing ICCs, which were touted as the alternative approach to having community hospital beds in communities such as Alston, Wigton and Maryport, during the Success Regime review of NHS services.

They are described by the NHS as local hubs which bring together GPs, social care, community services, mental health services and specialist hospital consultants to support people closer to where they live.

However, in Alston, health campaigner Jane Mayes, who lives in the town and works in end-of-life research, said she would like to see that money spent on retaining beds, not replacing them with something else.

“Now there is some money behind the concept of the ICC we can get on and build it to suit the isolated community we live in, so people can receive the medical care they need in the community and avoid being rushed off to the acute hospital at the end of their lives,” she said.

“But this means 24-hour medical beds in a residential setting. Scientific research shows that anything less than that means that half of those who choose to die at home will actually die in an acute hospital.

“There is just no substitute for 24-hour medical care in a residential facility and this is what we need to build into our integrated care community.

“The Success Regime came, wielded its axe and went, leaving us with no 24-hour medical beds. We now have to use this money to build them up again as part of an integrated care community that reflects the way we want to live, and die, i.e. in our community.”

The larger proportion of the money — between £60 million and £100 million — will go on a new cancer centre at the Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle, including a new radiotherapy machine, and the next phase of development at the West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven.

The announcement was made by the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, on Wednesday.

Stephen Eames, lead for the west, north and east Cumbria health and care partnership, said: “This is fantastic news for patients in Cumbria. This significant investment in our local cancer services — in partnership with the excellent specialist services at Newcastle hospitals — means we can provide more modern cancer treatment, from state of the art facilities, which will benefit people living across North Cumbria.

“We are keen to get on with the next phase of development at the West Cumberland Hospital and this will enable us to push on with those necessary changes.

“But perhaps most importantly, this shows real confidence in our health and care system and we are delighted that this sends a signal to those who may choose to come and work here that things are improving.”

The funding will released over the next three years.

There will be between £30 million and £50 million to improve access to chemotherapy and radiotherapy by establishing a new cancer centre, complete with new equipment, at the Cumberland Infirmary.

The investment should help 95 per cent. of patients with suspected cancer receive a diagnosis within four weeks and, by improving access, both one-year and five-year cancer survival rates should increase.

The West Cumberland Hospital will receive between £30 million and £50 million to refurbish and redevelop parts of the hospital estate to bring it up to date, improving the experience of both patients and staff.

Health Secretary Mr. Hunt said: “This funding will support strong local plans to help the NHS modernise and transform care for patients.

“A measure of success of these transformation partnerships is that people can see and feel improvements being made in their local area — there are already excellent examples of this across the country and this money will allow them to go further and faster.”

Mr. Stevens added: “Today we’re firing the starting gun on the first wave of major service upgrades and care redesign which will benefit people living in counties, towns and cities across England.”