Royal Lancaster Infirmary will stay pledges minister

Royal Lancaster Infirmary

Royal Lancaster Infirmary

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The Royal Lancaster Infirmary will not close as part of proposals to shakeup Morecambe Bay’s hospital trust, the Health Secretary has said.

Westmorland General Hospital and Furness General Hospital will also be staying open.

But plans to consolidate services – including elective surgery – at one or more sites WILL form part of the Better Care Together strategy (BCT)- proposals for the future of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT)

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt spoke out to refute claims by local Labour campaigners that the ‘very existence of the Royal Lancaster Infirmary is under threat.’

He said: “This is scaring people. People really do care about their local health services and to scare them like this is totally irresponsible. The Better Care Together strategy does not propose hospital closures. They will also keep consultant-led maternity services at Lancaster and Furness.

“Playing politics with the NHS is irresponsible.”

The BCT strategy document has been submitted to NHS England and Monitor for initial consideration. However, it is understood the document:

• Does not propose the closure of any of the three main hospitals.

• Does confirm the intention to retain consultant-led maternity and accident and emergency services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Furness General Hospital.

• Midwifery-led maternity services would be retained at Westmorland General Hospital under the proposals.

• Proposes to move further services out of the traditional hospital setting and into local communities

• Plans to reduce the Trust’s operational costs through delivering services to patients closer to home.

Morecambe and Lunesdale Labour parliamentary candidate Amina Lone, said: “The Trust still has a gaping £25m black hole that needs to be filled. Without significant extra funding the risks to the quality of patient care and local services are very real.”