MP’s action call after Morecambe Bay health cuts plans leaked

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Leaked plans have revealed the potential for “drastic health cuts” in the Morecambe Bay area - including the closure of wards and services, according to South Lakes MP Tim Farron.

The Liberal Democrat leader is calling for the full publication of documents leaked to the Health Service Journal, which are said to reveal plans to close wards and service, extend waiting times, and stop some treatments.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron.

Mr Farron, who retained his Westmorland and Lonsdale seat at the general election on June 9, said the plans are being drawn up between top officials from NHS England, NHS Improvement and health managers in 14 areas of the country with the highest levels of overspending, including Morecambe Bay.

Mr Farron has written to NHS England to demand that the plans for the Morecambe Bay area be released publicly and in full.

He said: “The public has a right to know about planned cuts to local health services.

“This is why I have today written to NHS England to demand full publication of the plans for our area.

“These plans must not be drawn up behind closed doors without public scrutiny.

“Local hospital trust staff are fantastic professionals who do an excellent job, but the government’s obsession with cutting more and more funding from our health service is putting them in an impossible situation.

“The government must be open and honest with the public about what their savage health cuts will mean for local services.

“Publishing these plans is an important first step.”

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust, Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group, and ‘Better Care Together’, have all been contacted for comment, and are expected to provide a joint statement on the claims.

Part of plans being drawn up by Better Care Together, the strategy for future healthcare in the Morecambe Bay area, include moving services from hospitals into the community.

The Health Service Journal has reported that the controversial measures are currently being discussed privately by national NHS England and NHS Improvement officials, with senior local NHS leaders, as part of a new “capped expenditure process”.

NHS leaders from areas covered by the CEP have been told to examine “difficult decisions” and “think the unthinkable”, including modelling changes which are normally avoided as they are too unpleasant, unpopular or controversial, the journal has reported.