As I was saying, the removal of those consultant-led maternity services would actively undermine the principle of a truly national health service, and will never be accepted by me or by my community. I am therefore deeply concerned by a recent report, based on a leaked e-mail, which suggests that the Success Regime is indeed considering the removal of maternity services from Whitehaven as one of the options on which it wishes to consult. That is appalling. If the Success Regime turns out to be a Trojan horse initiated by the Government to slash budgets and remove services, I have just one message to send to the Government today: my community will never accept that, and cannot and will never forgive it.
There is no doubt that consultant-led maternity services are what west Cumbrian women and their families need, want and deserve. Removing those services from the remotest constituency from Westminster in England, in terms of accessibility, would be not only unsafe, but without precedent in our country. It is clear that this move is being driven by the Government’s determination to cut costs, and not by the safety of mothers and babies.
My community now calls on the Government and those responsible for the Success Regime to make the immediate, clear and unequivocal commitment to consultant-led maternity services at West Cumberland hospital—and other services—that communities in west Cumbria deserve. Without a clear commitment to our consultant-led services, including a fully functioning consultant-led maternity service at West Cumberland hospital, it will be impossible for us to support the work of the Success Regime in the future.
I have since urged the entire community of west Cumbria to join me, and our local campaigners, in fighting any proposals to remove essential consultant-led services from West Cumberland hospital. We are a community of campaigners, patients, families and NHS staff, united in our commitment to our local national health service, and we are determined to build a 21st century health economy, equipped to overcome the challenges that we face in my incredibly rural constituency. We will not allow the Government, by any means, to strip away our services, leaving a threadbare health service, unfit for purpose, to future generations in the community of west Cumbria. My community is determined; what we are missing is the immediate commitment, support and investment from the Government that we so clearly require.
Just two weeks ago the country voted to leave the European Union, and I regret that. Many of those voters, including a large number of my constituents, voted on the basis of their belief that a Brexit vote would result in an extra £350 million per week for the NHS. Since that vote, prominent members of the “leave” campaign have been quick to renege on a key promise that swung so many people behind their prospectus. As we observe the Conservative leadership contest, it appears likely that those prominent campaigners will wash their hands of the responsibility of delivering on the commitments that they made. In communities like mine, where people voted in the belief that their vote would help to fund the investments that we need in our health services, that is an unforgivable betrayal.
Now is the time for the Government to fulfil their responsibility to provide a truly national health service. My community needs and deserves no less than an immediate intervention to ensure the release of funding for the second phase of the redevelopment of West Cumberland hospital and a commitment to the retention and improvement of consultant-led services, including accident and emergency, maternity and paediatric services. We also require a commitment to the retention of beds at our community hospitals. Brexit campaigners in the Government, especially those who aspire to be not just the next leader of the Conservative party but the next leader of our country, have a particular responsibility to stand before the House and the country, and explain to all the people whom they knowingly deceived why they did it, where the money is coming from, and what they are going to do about it.