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Fire sets back Whitehaven hospital opening by months

A fire in the energy centre of the new West Cumberland Hospital building will set back its opening by months.

The local MP Jamie Reed took this photo of the damage Credit: Jamie Reed

Copeland MP Jamie Reed said the news was "utterly devastating" and he will now write to the Department for Health asking that money is put in place to rebuild the centre as quickly as possible.

The fire broke out last night (Friday, 23rd January) in the biomass fuel plant, which was to provide the power for the hospital. No patients or services were affected but the NHS Trust said delays in opening the £100m building were inevitable. It had been due to open in April 2015.

'Devastating' fire at new West Cumberland Hospital

A fire has destroyed the energy centre at the new West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, which was due to open in April.

It broke out last night in the biomass fuel plant, which produces power for the building.

Firefighters spent four hours putting out the blaze and will now investigate what caused it.

The NHS Trust said no patients or services were affected, but the damage will delay the handover of the keys from developers to NHS staff, which was due to happen next week.

It could ultimately delay the moving-in date.

"This is absolutely devastating for me, the staff and the local community. We must let the investigators do their job to understand why this has happened at this time. We were all looking forward to moving into the new hospital and none of us can believe this has happened.”

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

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A&E departments 'improving' in North Cumbria

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has improved. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Accident and emergency departments at West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary are improving, according to the Care Quality Commission's national patient survey.

The hospitals, run by North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, showed improvements in six questions, including waiting times, opportunities for relatives to speak to a doctor and receiving prompt attention from staff when needed.

They were listed as 'average' in seven of the eight categories, and 'above' average in the eighth.

  • Arrival at A&E - 8.2/10 - Average
  • Waiting times - 7.0/10 - Above
  • Doctors and nurses - 8.4/10 - Average
  • Care and treatment - 8.0/10 - Average
  • Tests - 8.2/10 - Average
  • Hospital environment and facilities - 8.4/10 - Average
  • Leaving A&E - 6.1/10 - Average
  • Experience overall - 8.6/10 - Average

315 people who had attended one of the Trust’s A&E departments between January and March 2014 took the survey.

The results will be used in the regulation, monitoring and inspection of the Trust.

But, the Trust is aware that in recent weeks the 95% emergency care standard (patients being seen, treated and admitted or discharged from A&E within four hours) was not maintained, and dropped to 85% in October.

“We are delighted with the 2014 results, showing improvement in almost every area and being rated as one of the best performing hospitals in some areas, particularly for waiting times.

“Our emergency departments have been very busy in recent weeks, with high numbers of people attending and our clinical teams have consistently showed their dedication and commitment to their patients. The survey demonstrates real progress for the teams in both of our hospitals who are working hard to provide a safe, caring and compassionate service.”

– Dr Peter Weaving, clinical director for emergency care at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust

Campaigners take petition to Downing Street

From Whitehaven to Downing Street - campaigners who want to keep consultant-led medical services at the West Cumberland Hospital have taken their fight to the Prime Minister's front door.

More than 23,000 people have signed a petition to stop services being transferred from West Cumbria to Carlisle. Katie Hunter reports:

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