UNIT: We all want transparency

We would like to take issue with some of the comments made by Councillors Bawn and Wearmouth in their recent letters (Morpeth Herald, January 24).

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 10 February, 2019, 05:00

Neither councillor has replied to the emails we sent on January 13 on behalf of the Morpeth Stands Up For The Whalton Unit campaign.

We had intended to synthesise the responses from all town councillors and include them in our weekly Facebook updates.

These updates appear on social media sites covering the whole of the Northumbria NHS Trust area as the Whalton Unit serves patients from towns other than Morpeth, so we are a bit surprised that whilst accusing the campaign of parochialism, both councillors address their comments to a Morpeth newspaper.

Our main concern is the councillors reclaiming ownership of ‘facts’, implying that the campaign is dealing in misapprehensions.

It is the lack of verifiable facts that is driving the campaign, which is asking for transparency and consultation so that rumours and assumptions are not allowed to cloud the issue.

There is, for example, ambiguity in the statements from Dr Jeremy Rushmore, Executive Medical Director, who said the move was ‘definitely temporary’, and also that ‘there is an ongoing review and no one knows the outcome’.

Given the difference between the two statements, it is difficult to be sure what is ‘fact’.

Coun Wearmouth assumes that he knows what a consultation would be asking, and decides on behalf of his constituents that a consultation is not necessary.

We question the value of this high-handed approach, which excludes the public from discussions that may impact on the type of care available to them and/or their loved ones at end of life.

Coun Bawn’s letter shows that he sees the situation as adversarial, referring to ‘sides’. This is contrary to the view and aim of the Whalton Unit campaign, which seeks to ensure that the people of the region are involved in the decision-making process in a co-operative spirit.

We feel that Coun Bawn’s suggestion that the NHS needs to be called upon to ensure the welfare of patients is insulting to the NHS.

His emotive sentence about the campaign ‘denigrating the commitment’ of NHS staff is wholly untrue. We invite Coun Bawn to show any examples where he thinks that we have denigrated the integrity or commitment of NHS staff as we have every respect for the work of the doctors and nurses on Ward 8 and in the old Whalton Unit.

It is heartening to see that some of the questions we have been asking, for example about privacy and dignity, have been taken on board and are being asked on our behalf.

It would be really good if the responses given to the town council could be shared with local residents, however; preferably before irreversible decisions have been taken.

If this is not possible, perhaps we can be told why there is a need for secrecy?

The NHS has assured us that the move is about winter resilience, as opposed to a business matter, and unless we are missing something, there should be no advantage in keeping details from the people who pay for the NHS.

Barbara Ross, Chris Hall, Jan Clarke

Morpeth Stands Up For The Whalton Unit