WORK to improve fire safety at Carlisle's hospital is underway.

A sprinkler system is set to be installed next week as part of a three-year programme of work to upgrade measures at the Cumberland Infirmary.

North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, which runs the site, and its PFI partner Health Management Carlisle (HMC) has set out on the work.

The trust says that should a fire occur, with this system in place, it can be extinguished quickly and the flames are less likely to take hold.

In addition, it said, there would be no need for widespread evacuation - as the sprinklers would only activate at the fire source.

It comes nearly two years after a catalogue of fire safety failings were identified, leading to an enforcement notice from Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service, which called for urgent action be taken to address the issues.

About four months after it was issued, the enforcement notice was withdrawn after the hospital demonstrated sufficient measures to satisfy legislation had been taken.

Since then trust and HMC, which owns the building, have worked with the fire service to carry out improvement work and are now looking to further enhance safety.

Stephen Eames, the trust's chief executive, said: “We are very pleased that the fire sprinkler installation work is set to begin next week, which will seriously enhance our fire protection at the hospital.

"This is a significant investment form our PFI partner, focusing on making the hospital safer."

Work will start on Monday in the Outpatients department and the hospital said it aims to keep disruption to a minimum for patients, visitors and staff.