This is how the West Cumberland Hospital will look when a long-awaited £50m revamp is finally complete.

The ambitious plan will combine two phases - demolition and refurbishment of the old hospital buildings with a brand new medical school.

Today we get a first glimpse of the artists impressions of the plans, which now need NHS England approval.

Health bosses say the completed hospital will be the first of its kind nationally, becoming an "exemplar" for the wider NHS.

The redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital dates back several years, with the first phase opening in October 2015.

This saw an extensive new build programme, creating the new emergency floor, theatres and wards with single-bedded rooms.

But there have long been calls on the Government to release funding for the next phase, to refurbish the remaining old buildings.

Earlier this year, the Department of Health announced that north, west and east Cumbria was in line for up to £100m of investment, to complete the Whitehaven project and build a new cancer centre at Carlisle.

Health leaders have since been working on detailed business cases, which will determine exactly how much money is released.

Today we have been given an exclusive preview of the West Cumberland Hospital scheme, estimated to be worth £46m.

Phase two is for a major demolition, landscaping and reinstatement programme, estimated to cost £33m.

This will include renal, chemotherapy, therapies, pre-assessment, consultant-led maternity (obstetrics), gynaecology, midwife-led maternity unit and office space.

Phase three is to create a new build academic campus, in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan), which is estimated to cost £13m.

West Cumbrian GP John Howarth, who is now joint deputy chief executive of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust and the Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, is among those leading on the project.

After years of community concern about the future of the hospital, which was in special measures and undergoing a major review of services, he said things are now changing for the better.

He said the investment shows national confidence in the West Cumberland Hospital and wider plans for the local NHS.

Dr Howarth said the newly-revamped hospital will be a real asset to the area, and the addition of the medical school will help solve long-standing recruitment problems for the long term.

“It’s really exciting. The important message is that we have two new phases of investment coming to the West Cumberland Hospital.

“We (north, west and east Cumbria) have got more than a quarter of all the national capital available to the NHS," he said.

“That shows a real transformation in national confidence. We have a rapidly evolving health system, which has given the confidence to significantly invest in us."

Once approved, it is expected that work will start on phases two and three late next year, to be complete by 2020.

The phases will run alongside each other.

Dr Howarth stressed that it is not just about the physical buildings, but part of a unique wider plan.

“We are looking at how we make the West Cumberland Hospital the hub of an integrated care system, for Copeland and Allerdale, connecting the acute hospital with all of its services with primary care and community services," he said.

Dr Howarth said they are leading the way nationally on what he calls “population health”.

“What we have to begin to do is go beyond just delivering services, to have an ambition of improving overall health of the population.

“We therefore want to design a hospital that goes beyond delivering services, but contributes to the wider health and wellbeing of the communities it serves," he explained.

He stressed that they were still committed to bed-based care where appropriate, with phase two providing top of the range facilities for patients who need acute care.

But the hospital will also be forging new partnerships with primary care, mental health and the third sector, ensuring the entire health and care system is operating as one.

“This completes the redevelopment of all the bed-based care - maternity, paediatrics etc. We want to emphasise that we will continue to provide that, but also go beyond it. It’s an exciting opportunity," he said.

Part of the work will be to knock down the old education centre to make way for the new university medical school campus with state of the art facilities and halls of residence for up to 130 students.

Physician associates are already being trained in west Cumbria, and the first medical students will arrive in September 2018.

Dr Howarth, who is also a professor of primary care at Uclan medical school, believes this will be key to tackling recruitment and retention problems, where possible recruiting students from Cumbrian schools who want to train and stay to practice in the area.

"I'm really optimistic. These courses are very attractive to students. One of the historic weaknesses we have had, particularly in west Cumbria, is that we have not had our own medical students," he said.

“Having our own campus in Whitehaven, for me as a doctor, is game-changing. It will take some years to really have an impact but in the medium to long term it will change our ability to train and retain our own doctors. For me, as a local doctor who has worked all my career here, it’s the most exciting development of that time."

Although phases two and three will take some time, work is already underway at the hospital to complete phase 1B - establishing a new permanent home for breast screening, cardiology and vascular.

This is happening on the site of the old Fairfield children's ward, which is being refurbished to the same standard as the new hospital. That is due to be complete early in the new year.

Dr Howarth said overall he feels very positive about the future of the West Cumberland Hospital.

"My first job in the NHS was at the West Cumberland Hospital, in 1983, so this is fantastic to see," he said.

"I think we are going to end up with one of the best facilities in the country, here in west Cumbria.

"Our ambitions for the West Cumberland Hospital are unique. We want to go further than other places have gone.

"There will obviously be bigger hospitals in the country, but as a hospital within a fully integrated health and care system - nobody else has done that. West Cumbria is going to be a national exemplar.

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison, added: “The new development plans for West Cumberland Hospital which includes a health village and education facility is exciting news and a positive step in the right direction to implementing a fully integrated health and care system.”

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, urged the community to gewt behind the plans.

“The move towards a nationally leading health system will place Cumbria and West Cumberland Hospital at the forefront of a modern health care system," he said.

“The news of significant investment for the next phases of West Cumberland Hospital including a medical campus and brand-new consultant led and midwifery led maternity units is all that we have hoped for, and far more.

“It is clear that we are on a journey to having the hospital and health system we have fought so hard for.

“Now it’s time for the community to get behind this opportunity, to shout about all that we have to offer and make sure we attract the professionals and skills that will make this system and our hospital hugely successful."