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Labour MPs join forces on winter NHS as local hospitals "60 beds short"


Cat Smith MP, Lancaster & Fleetwood Labour
Cat Smith MP, Lancaster & Fleetwood Labour
John Freeman

Lancaster MP Cat Smith and her Furness counterpart John Woodcock have joined forces to demand government action on the scale of local bed shortages during the winter NHS crisis.

The Labour MPs made the call after learning that Morecambe bay hospitals were "60 beds short" as the cold weather gripped over the weekend. A local doctor had privately contacted Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth ahead of a commons debate yesterday saying the health trust were ‘minus 60 beds’ at the weekend - NHS terminology for a situation where there are 60 more patients who are so ill that they need a hospital bed when none are available.

“Tory mismanagement of the NHS is placing the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Furness General and Westmorland General under intolerable pressure," says Cat Smith. "Staff are working round the clock to provide the best care they can but they cannot work miracles if the government refuse to give our hospitals the resources they desperately need. Ministers must act to tackle this winter crisis.”

John, who recently spent an evening observing doctors and nurses in Furness General’s accident and emergency department, said: “The strain on the NHS under this Tory government is underlined by the fact that 60 patients needed a bed yet not a single one was available in the whole of the Morecambe Bay area. It is deeply worrying that operations are being postponed or cancelled yet still so many seriously ill patients are being left without adequate care.

“What the government has pledged so far is clearly woefully inadequate, the government must respond to this crisis by resourcing our hospitals properly.”

Cat and John made the call as Labour called a debate in parliament to ministers increase cash limits for the current year so that the NHS can reschedule scores of cancelled procedures.

The motion compelled the government to report back to parliament before 1st February 2018 and address how it has complied with demand.

Earlier this week in the House of Commons, Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris used his question to the Prime Minister to praise the work of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and its CEO Jackie Daniel and congratulated her on her recent Damehood, noting the improvements the Trust has made to health care provsion over the last five years.

He did not raise any concerns about the local NHS situation but, last month, he welcomed the announcement by the Health Minister of £2 million for the Trust to combat winter pressures.