UNIT: Questions are unanswered

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The following is an update from the Whalton Unit campaign.

We have attended a meeting of Northumberland County Council health and welfare overview and scrutiny committee and contacted a number of key people in the hope of getting transparency about the future of the unit. These include Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, and Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

There have also been newspaper articles about the campaign.

We are pleased to acknowledge the letter of support for the campaign from Alison Byard, Andrew Tebbutt and Joan Tebbutt, Liberal Democrat councillors.

The following are questions that remain unanswered. Any replies will be reported in future updates.

The press articles mentioned that the results of a review into the future of the Whalton Unit will be announced in March. We would like to know how a review can take place so soon after the first patients have been transferred to Wansbeck, and what, specifically, will be reviewed?

The articles suggest that there have been difficulties with staffing the Whalton Unit, but we would like to know how much of the difficulty was because of the uncertainty that has been hanging over the unit for the past year, as opposed to people not wanting to work there for other reasons?

A full review would also consider the patient/visitor experience, and we would like to know how this will be achieved.

Leading from the point above, we would like to know whether feedback forms will be issued to patients and visitors, and if so, what measures will be taken to ensure that they are impartial? If they are competed on the premises, for instance, people may feel under pressure to bear in mind that staff will be able to associate the responses with particular patients.

Finally, we feel that it is important that residents of Morpeth are aware of the extent of the support offered by their representatives on the town council.

As mentioned above, we have had expressions of support from three councillors and the constituency MP, and we will be offering the rest of the councillors the same opportunity to communicate the extent of their support to the voters.

We will be emailing all of the remaining town councillors asking for a response, which will form part of our next update.

The petition is still available in Age UK in Newgate Street.

Jan Clarke, Chris Hall and Barbara Ross

Whalton Unit Campaign