Barrow and Furness MP used a question at Prime Minister’s questions on Wednesday to urge Theresa May to recognise the concerns of people in Cumbria about proposals to downgrade local A&E and maternity services and centralise services in Carlisle and Morecambe Bay ahead of the important by-election in Copeland.
Mr Woodcock said:
“The strained accident and emergency provision in my constituency is under review, and the community further up the Cumbrian coast risks losing 24-hour access to accident and emergency and to consultant-led maternity from its local hospital.
“I understand that the Prime Minister will say that these decisions are to be made locally, but will she at least say that she can understand the anxiety of expectant mums who face a 40-mile journey on difficult roads, which are often blocked, if they have a difficult birth?”
The Prime Minister said that she does “understand the concerns of local people about the services that will be available for them” especially at West Cumberland hospital and stressed that no final decisions had been made, but failed to offer reassurances that crucial services would be not be cut.
The exchange comes ahead of a crunch by-election in Copeland planned for early this year where it is expected that cuts to the local health service under the Conservative government are likely to play a big role in deciding which way people vote.
John Woodcock MP said: “The Prime Minister says she understands local concerns, but that won’t count for much if these downgrades do end up going ahead.
“It feels like every year we have to defend different parts of our local health service from government cuts, the Prime Minister can’t wash her hands of this, she must recognise that ultimately the buck stops with her and the government she leads.”