Up to £50m funding boost for West Cumberland Hospital

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UP to £50m will be made available for the final phases of the West Cumberland Hospital, the Government has announced.

Chief executive Stephen Eames said the new funding will be enough to finish the planned redevelopment, and do more.

There have long been calls for more money to be released following the initial £90m new-build part of the transformation.

Now the Government has confirmed that between £30m and £50m will be made available as part of wider plans to invest in health services across England, with a £325m fund set aside.

Some parts of the old Whitehaven hospital still remain on the Hensingham site. Several sections will be demolished and others refurbished, with a new main entrance created.

Mr Eames said they will now work on a detailed plan and business case. Once approved, the cash will be released.

The announcement comes just weeks after North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust announced that work would begin this month on what it dubbed phase 1b of the redevelopment.

This will see a new diagnostics suite created, housing cardiology, breast screening and a vascular laboratory, and a new mortuary.

This work is set to be complete by spring 2018.

The trust originally planned a phase two and three, but Mr Eames said things have moved on considerably since then.

"I think we need to move away from phases. We will get somewhere between £30m and £50m, I think it will be on the top side which is more than was originally planned," he said.

"What it opens up is an opportunity for really developing the hospital as a health and care campus, building on our relationships with the University of Central Lancashire.

"The hospital will be a vibrant hub and there is now an opportunity to do other things with primary care and social care. The bottom line is, anyone who who thinks the West Cumberland Hospital doesn't have a future, or we are closing it, can think again."

Conservative Trudy Harrison, Copeland MP, welcomed the announcement.

“Securing this major investment for West Cumberland Hospital is fantastic news and will mean patients get an even better service from the NHS," she said.

“The funding will help to deliver faster diagnosis for conditions including cancer, easier access to mental health services, expansions of A&E departments, shorter waiting times for operations, and more services in GP surgeries.

“There has been huge progress in improving patient care and this funding will help to secure the highest quality, most compassionate patient care anywhere in the world.”

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