Fears grow for our hospitals

UNION chiefs have expressed “serious concerns” about a possible takeover of two Cumbria hospitals by the health trust which operates the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

And they fear a potential bidding war between trusts for the acquisition could lead to reduced government assistance.

As reported in last week’s Guardian, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBFT) has submitted a bid to acquire North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

NCUH runs Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

UHMBFT, which operates Westmorland General Hospital and Furness General Hospital as well as the RLI, is in contention along with Newcastle, Northumbria and the Cumbria Partnership.

Kirk Panter, of the trust joint unions, said although the unions are not discounting the acquisition, they want to see more information about how much financial assistance the successful bidder would receive from the government. “We have expressed serious concerns about the financial situation in Carlisle,” he said.

“Any trust will need significant assistance from the government to take on that trust because there’s no magic wand to sort it out.”

See the Lancaster Guardian (11-08-11) for full story.