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On-call doctor provision at Westmorland General Hospital

Volume 744: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2024

The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,

Declares opposition against the decision from Cumbria Health on Call to reduce the on-call doctor provision from Kendal overnight three times a week; further declares the essential service which overnight doctors at Westmorland General Hospital provide to the local community.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take into account the concerns of the petitioners and take immediate action to urge Cumbria Health on Call to restore the on-call doctor provision from Kendal.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Tim Farron, Official Report, 5 December 2023; Vol. 742, c. 316.]


Observations from the Minister for Social Care (Helen Whately):

The Government are aware that following a period of analysis Cumbria Health on Call, or CHoC, has introduced a change in staffing model, reducing the presence of a site-based clinician at the Westmorland General Hospital between the hours of 2 am and 8 am on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—Wednesday and Thursday only post bank holiday. This reduction will allow CHoC to reallocate the resource to peak periods of service demand, which will improve access times for patients.

Patients in the Westmorland area can still access the service via NHS 111 or a direct line number that is provided to certain patient groups—for example, palliative care patients. For patients who require a face-to-face consultation or home visit due to clinical need, this service will be available, where clinical resource will be shared from other sites.

CHoC has provided the NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care board with detailed activity data covering a 12-month period, and the ICB has undertaken a clinical review of the data and considers that the analysis supports the proposed staffing model, including the use of virtual consultations and ability to deploy a doctor from other areas within Cumbria. CHoC is due to repeat the clinical audit in January 2024, three months post implementation.

Local health and care organisations are best placed to make decisions on commissioning services for their communities, working with local authorities, stakeholders and local populations to meet people’s needs.