I write with regard to the Whalton Unit.
I was clear in my feelings regarding the unit in the meeting attended by the NHS, campaign group and the public in Morpeth Town Hall some weeks ago. I want to see patients get the highest standard of care practical.
Attendees would have heard that after a long time in Morpeth, the Whalton Unit has had to be located at Wansbeck Hospital this winter due to a lack of staff (not lack of funds or any other constraint).
NHS staff have been clear — there was no alternative on an operational basis, otherwise the health of patients would have been put at risk. I assume that we can all take that as the sad, but actual fact.
The campaign group is asking for a consultation on the location of the unit, but I have to question what a consultation would be asking? I assume it would be “if it were not for the lack of staff would you prefer the unit to remain in Morpeth?”
Quite probably people would say they want the unit to remain in its historic location, but what would the purpose of the consultation be if the preference of the people cannot be implemented?
The NHS, which is in sole control of the decision on how and where services are provided, pledged to make itself available to the campaign group and public. Having answered questions at the Town Hall, it promised to answer any questions received by the town council from the public.
So far as I know, a single set of questions has been received and the NHS promptly replied. The town council remains available to link with the NHS.
Together with other Morpeth councillors, I will continue to feedback to the NHS to make sure the highest standard of care is available to Morpeth residents and that NHS provision in our town reflects our growing and ageing population needs.
In the case of the Whalton Unit, town councillors identified areas of concern that we expect to be addressed, such as the privacy of patients, etc, now that the unit is operating from the Wansbeck. I continue to liaise with the NHS on these points.
Coun Richard Wearmouth
Morpeth Kirkhill Member