Please view our cookie policy that explains what cookies are and how they are used on our website. This also provides you with a guide on how to disable cookies, but please be aware that parts of the site will not function correctly if you disable them.

By closing this message, you consent to our use of cookies on this device in accordance with our cookie policy unless you have disabled them.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > Healthcare leaders take proactive steps to ensure continuity of acute care for patients in West Cumbria

Healthcare leaders take proactive steps to ensure continuity of acute care for patients in West Cumbria

Posted on Tuesday 17th June 2014
West Cumberland Hospital

West Cumberland Hospital

Healthcare leaders at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust have this week taken further proactive steps to ensure the continuity of acute care for patients at West Cumberland Hospital.

The recruitment of permanent consultants and resident specialty doctors remains a very challenging issue for all NHS organisations in Cumbria and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust launched a large-scale recruitment effort in April this year.

The ‘Looking for a Fresh Start’ campaign has already helped attract clinicians from outside of the North East and Cumbria to relocate to the region.  In May, the Trust attended the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) annual conference in Manchester and only last week was at the Group of Anaesthetists in Training (GAT) annual conference in Newcastle, talking to clinicians and trainees from across the country about career opportunities in North Cumbria.

Despite these significant efforts and the innovative job designs the Trust has in place to recruit into vacant posts, there are currently a number of gaps in the acute medical rota at West Cumberland Hospital from August which must be filled.

To ensure continuity of acute care for patients in West Cumbria, chief executive Ann Farrar has today written to her counterparts at all hospital trusts in the North East and North West requesting immediate interim support for medical staffing at West Cumberland Hospital in order to maintain acute medicine services. 

The news comes following the appointment of locum doctors in April who were brought in to provide immediate support to nursing and medical teams at West Cumberland Hospital following the removal of three junior doctors due to lack of available clinical supervision. 

The Trust hopes this proactive action requesting support from the NHS in the North East and North West, together with ongoing recruitment efforts, will ensure all services can be maintained while further extensive recruitment takes place to stabilise the medical workforce in West Cumbria.

The immediate doctors needed at West Cumberland Hospital are at registrar / specialty doctor level to work in the acute care medicine service and look after emergency admissions to hospital.  Nationally there is a shortage of such acute care physicians which is further impacting on North Cumbria’s ability to attract people.  A number of applications have been received following recent high profile advertising for speciality doctors in acute care and are now progressing through the HR values-based recruitment process.

Dr Jeremy Rushmer, medical director at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said:  “We are facing some immediate problems in terms of our acute care medical rota at West Cumberland Hospital and we want to be transparent and open with all of our stakeholders about this.

“We have today written to all chief executives in the North East and North West to request any interim support they may be able to give us in August in order to ensure continuity of care for our patients.

“There is no escaping some of the very real recruitment challenges we face as a Trust and we are committed to working through these and making sure all of our patients, staff, the public and other stakeholders are kept fully up to date with progress.”

North Cumbria is already looking at other innovative ways to provide expert acute care when people arrive at hospital in an emergency.  The Trust has invested £1million to develop a further 12 nurse practitioner roles at West Cumberland Hospital and with training now almost complete, these staff will begin in post from September 2014.

Nurse practitioners are highly skilled senior nurses, who have undergone additional training and can assess, diagnose and treat patients, order tests and prescribe medication. They will work in partnership with doctors at West Cumberland Hospital to provide a safe seven day service with consultants and senior medical staff providing educational and clinical supervision.

Dr Rushmer added: “It is important that people understand the national context we are working in and the general lack of acute care physicians nationally which is proving problematic for many Trusts across the country.  The help we have requested from other hospitals is clearly not a long term solution to the medical staffing problems we face but we are hopeful that with some support we will be able to secure the continued provision of safe services for this interim period.

“Recruitment of permanent medical staff remains a very challenging issue for us and is one that we cannot and will not shy away from.  We are committed to addressing the challenges we face in an open and transparent way and our patients and staff can be absolutely reassured that we are taking every possible step to recruit high calibre candidates into the vacant positions we have at West Cumberland Hospital.  We will of course continue to keep all stakeholders updated on this situation.”