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New West Cumberland Hospital to open in Autumn

West Cumberland Hospital

The new West Cumberland Hospital is expected to open this Autumn, it has been announced.

That's a boost because progress on the £90m hospital suffered a setback earlier this year, when a fire damaged the energy centre.

The hospital itself wasn't damaged, but was left without any source of electrical power or heating.

A fire damaged the energy centre.

Following the fire it has been important for us to carefully consider and test all of the options we had in order to allow us to move forward both quickly and, most importantly, safely.

We are very pleased to say that we are now back on track and the hospital will be opening to patients in Autumn this year. This is a real testament to the hard work and determination of our staff.

We look forward to arranging public open days in the coming months to allow members of the local community to come and view their fantastic new hospital before we open the doors later this year.”

– Les Morgan, director of redevelopment at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

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Public can help Cumbria Hospital improvements

The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle Credit: ITV Border

Members of the public are being asked to play their part to improve pressures on North Cumbria hospitals.

Efforts are being focused on reducing the need to maintain escalation beds, which have put a strain on normal routine business when hospitals are at capacity.

Health and social partners are working to make sure patients who do not need to be in an acute hospital bed, are safely discharged to a more appropriate care setting or home with the right package of care.

The public are being asked to help reduce pressures, and are being reminded:

  • to think twice before using A&E or calling 999 for serious life threatening emergencies
  • to think about using other NHS services such as walk-in centres and pharmacies or call Cumbria Health on Call (out of hours) on 03000 247247 for advice on alternative urgent services available
  • to stay away from hospital if they have any symptoms of sickness or diarrhoea.

Caesarean figures revealed at West Cumberland Hospital

Campaigners in West Cumbria fear dozens of lives a year will be at risk if maternity services at the West Cumberland Hospital are downgraded. It's after exclusive figures obtained by Lookaround revealed the number of emergency Caesarean sections carried out there annually.

Health bosses are waiting for the outcome of an independent review into maternity services before making decisions about the future. Katie Hunter reports:

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Protestors hold torchlit procession

Protesters held a torchlit procession last night Credit: ITV Border

Protesters against cuts to services at Whitehaven's West Cumberland Hospital held a torchlit march last night.

The "We need West Cumberland Hospital" Group say that thirty-three services in West Cumbria have either been lost or are under threat, and that moving them to Carlisle is putting public safety at risk.

A new £90,000,000 hospital is being built in Whitehaven but protesters say that the loss of services may not be addressed by this.

Protestors say that moving some services to Carlisle is putting public safety at risk Credit: ITV Border

However, the North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust is arguing that services have been improved under the new structure.

It also says that it's important to note that some of the "threatened" services may not actually be under threat.

"Following the centralisation of all complex high risk surgery at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle in 2013, the number of deaths of people from West Cumbria associated with emergency surgery has fallen by over 50%, showing that this was absolutely the right decision for our patients.

“The new £90 million West Cumberland Hospital will ensure that the vast majority of people living in West Cumbria will continue receive their healthcare locally. The new hospital will offer a range of services including an emergency floor with A&E, ambulatory care, ITU and critical care, seven state of the art operating theatres and improved diagnostic services."

– A spokesperson for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

West Cumberland Hospital fire 'most likely' accidental

Investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing Credit: ITV Border

Investigators say that the cause of the fire in the energy centre of the new West Cumberland Hospital was "most likely" accidental.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service and independent investigators have been working to ascertain what started the blaze on 23 January 2015.

They say the investigation is going well.

“It is a complex, technically demanding investigation involving large amounts of physical and data evidence. The investigation team is working exceptionally well together utilising experts from a wide field of specialities.

“I can confirm that the current evidence we have indicates that the most likely cause is an accidental fire within the Energy Centre. The investigation will continue as we methodically attempt to pinpoint the exact cause.”

– Adrian Holme, station manager for Workington Locality of Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service

Health boss praises hospital staff for fire response

The fire broke out on Friday night Credit: ITV Border

The staff at the West Cumberland Hospital have been praised by the Trust's chief executive following Friday night's fire.

Anne Farrar has thanked staff for working to ensure that no patients were affected by the incident, including those who volunteered to come from home if they were needed.

She has also paid tribute to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service.

“I would like to thank our staff for the outstanding commitment they have shown over the past few days.

"I spent Saturday going round West Cumberland Hospital to talk to staff and whilst everybody was understandably upset, they were all also wonderfully determined that the future is still very bright for the hospital.

“I would also like to thank the Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for their quick action on Friday night to ensure the fire was controlled as quickly as possible.”

– Ann Farrar, chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust
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