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Sister newspapers launch bid to save health services

Four sister newspapers have launched a joint campaign to save under-threat health services in the region they serve.

The Carlisle News & Star, Cumberland News, Whitehaven News and Workington Times & Star have joined forces for the ‘Save Our Services’ campaign.

It comes after firms plans were published to overhaul the local NHS, with recommendations including the downgrading of maternity services and closure of cottage hospital beds.

It is also proposed to transfer more seriously ill adults and children from Whitehaven to Carlisle, almost 40 miles away.

The front page of the Whitehaven News after the campaign was announced

The front page of the Whitehaven News after the campaign was announced

The quartet all splashed on the campaign after it was launched last week.

Since then, a story highlighting a maternity consultant’s claim that “40 miles was not that far” had a reach of almost 83,000 on Facebook with more than 300 comments and 300 shares.

Chris Story, associate editor of the News & Star and The Cumberland News, said: “There are deep-rooted problems with the NHS in Cumbria that are well documented and which the entire community wants to see tackled.

“However, our readers, medics and other experts don’t believe the proposals outlined by the Success Regime are the answer to them. They have already raised their concerns strongly and feel as though they have not been listened to.

“On the proposals surrounding maternity, it’s simply not safe to force mums in labour to endure a 40-mile trip along a largely single-track road if they need to see a consultant.

“The options out for consultation are simply not safe. We hope the voices of our readers will be heard and that there will be a rethink on the best way forward.”

A formal consultation on the plans is running until just before Christmas.