It came as a winding body-blow when the Cumberland Infirmary was described by its chief executive as a hospital unfit for purpose.

Not that Stephen Eames’s warning will have surprised many. We’ve known for more than long enough that the CIC has been teetering on the edge of failure to cope.

And fitness for modern purpose requires a lot more than just about managing to get by, on a wing and a prayer.

But when it’s articulated without pulled punches that our hospital is less than it should be now – and will be expected to take on many more burdens and responsibilities soon – sharp intake of anxious breath is inescapable.

There’s a further worry though – in the not fit for purpose scenario. No chance of a quick fix is possible, not least because necessary funding is right off the agenda of purse string holders.

Anne Pickles In fact, even a slow fix seems unlikely in the present climate. Still wading through the treacle that is the current sticky state of NHS upheaval in Cumbria, and with very little by way of clarity any time soon, there remains a big question that none appears to be able to answer.

How will we ever know with certainty how fit for purpose any of our hospitals are, when we still can’t decide what their purpose is or will be?

From lurching between repeated crises with crossed fingers and as much hope as we can muster, we’ve landed in a worrying state of limbo knowing that the Cumberland Infirmary will never be fully fit for purpose until someone can define what purpose looks like.

It would be dangerous to hold any breath in anticipation of an answer to that one.