Essential insight into NHS matters in the North West of England, with a particular focus on the devolution project in Greater Manchester. By Lawrence Dunhill

Cumbria rumblings

Until last week, there had been a surprisingly eerie quiet from the three parts of the country selected for the NHS’s Orwellian-sounding “success regime”

There’s plenty of time for that, of course, especially once service closures start being proposed.

But some initial rumblings have creeped out from Cumbria, where governors at Cumbria Partnership Foundation Trust have accused the regime of seeing its community services as “a cash cow to solve problems in the acute system”.

The governors’ argument put the trust’s chief executive, Claire Molloy, in a slightly awkward position, given that she also sits on the success regime’s programme board.

She has played down the concerns, although a spokesman for the regime released a more combative statement branding some of the governors’ claims “absurd”.

Two commenters on, who did not sound like wholly disinterested parties, disagreed on the issue.

One doubted whether the concerns represented the views of the whole membership body, while the other claimed that one possible reconfiguration decision that might emerge from the Cumbria regime represented a “pending disaster”.

Last week I was questioning if foundation trust members and governors really have any influence over health services. Cumbria might just give us an answer.

Morecambe Bay fallout

The reverberations from Morecambe Bay’s historical care scandal are still being felt, with the Department of Health last week ordering the Nursing and Midwifery Council to “urgently review” the way it treats patients and bereaved families.

This followed criticism from the Professional Standards Authority over the nursing regulator’s “deficient” handling of a misconduct case against two midwives from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, after it emerged relevant evidence was not considered before the midwives were cleared.

And remember the DH has also been criticised recently for its lack of response to Bill Kirkup’s inquiry into the maternity failings. Let’s hope the national bodies get their houses in order quickly - Morecambe Bay needs space to move on.

Grim reading

The latest accident and emergency performance data made pretty grim reading for many providers in the North West, but particularly Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

Around 70 emergency patients waited more than 12 hours to be admitted in March alone, which continues a pretty startling slide for a trust that appeared to have turned itself around in recent years.

Admittedly, Pennine Acute runs three emergency departments, in Oldham, Bury and North Manchester, but the proportion of 12-hour breaches was still 15 times higher than the national average.

Sir David Dalton has a mammoth task on his hands to turn the trust around, along with all the other things on his plate (see last week’s briefing).

It’s not just me that’s worried that Sir David might be overstretched, by the way. Minutes of a recent Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group meeting show members have flagged the “large amount of work to be taken on” by the Salford Royal chief executive as a “significant risk”.

Welcome to North by North West

North by North West will take an in-depth weekly look at one of the NHS’s most challenged and innovative regions. There will be a particular focus on the devolution experiment in Greater Manchester, but my scope will also include Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria.

Please get in touch to let me know how I can improve it, and to tip me off about stories you think I should cover: If someone forwarded this to you, sign up to get your own copy here