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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Cumbrian health plans clear major hurdle

Three major health schemes that will see £105 million invested in west Cumbria have cleared a significant hurdle.

NHS Cumbria’s trust board yesterday gave its backing to long-awaited plans to redevelop the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

It means the £90m hospital project – alongside plans for an £11m community hospital in Cockermouth and £4m health centre in Cleator Moor – can now go forward to regional bosses for approval.

Although the three schemes have already secured planning permission, work can not start until money is finally released by the Government.

But the Department of Health and Treasury will not do this until the plans have the green light from NHS North of England – the region’s Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

Although separate schemes, the new developments are all part of a wider strategy to improve the way health care is delivered in the county.

However earlier this year, the chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, Neil Goodwin, blamed colleagues at NHS Cumbria – the county’s primary care trust – for delaying his trust’s flagship West Cumberland Hospital rebuild.

He issued an ultimatum – that they meet to approve the Whitehaven plans quickly or his trust would not give its backing to the Cockermouth and Cleator Moor plans.

However, following talks between the two, it was agreed that both boards would meet in February ahead of the SHA meeting on March 8.

Following a meeting of the hospitals trust last week, when members agreed to support the Cockermouth and Cleator Moor plans, NHS Cumbria’s board held an extraordinary meeting yesterday.

Dr Mike Bewick, NHS Cumbria’s medical director, said: “Together, these three schemes make-up the largest ever single-investment in west Cumbria’s health facilities.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this point and, given the millions of pounds ready to be committed to these new buildings, it’s probably not surprising that a massive amount of detailed planning work has been required. If approved regionally and nationally, I am sure each of these developments will make a huge contribution to the health of the populations they will serve for decades to come.”

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