One-in-five patients attending north and west Cumbria’s accident and emergency departments were not seen within the target four hours.

Hospital performance in England was at its worst level on record in October, with A&E departments failing to hit the target of treating and discharging, admitting or transferring 95 per cent of patients within four hours.

At Whitehaven and Carlisle hospitals that figure was 79.9 per cent - or 7,938 patients. A further 2,002 people waited more than four hours, although none breached 12-hours.

The trust which runs the hospitals merged with the partnership trust on October 1, becoming North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC), and so this is the first available set of figures for the new trust.

In September the figures for the former North Cumbria University Hospital NHS Trust saw 82.1 per cent of patients wait four hours or less.

A spokeswoman for NCIC said: “There is no doubt the NHS is under pressure at the moment both nationally and locally.

“In Cumbria, we have one of the oldest populations in the country, which presents challenges across health and care services.

“The increase in pressure in our hospitals in recent weeks has led to longer waiting times than we would like in our A&E departments.

“We would like to apologise to anybody who has experienced a longer than expected wait in our hospitals.”

She continued: “One of the main ways to address this is by ensuring that patients are supported to be discharged in a timely way once they are medically fit to leave hospital.

“We aim to get as many people home safely with the right support in place as quickly as possible, as it is not beneficial to stay in hospital for prolonged periods when you could be at home.

“As winter progresses it is also very important the public help us by choosing to access the NHS service most appropriate for their needs.

“Our handy guide details which services are available locally in Cumbria. Find it online at

“It’s important you stock your medicine cupboard with what you need to treat minor ailments and if you are entitled to a free flu jab please take up the offer either at your local pharmacy or GP surgery.

“As always our staff are doing a fantastic job, going above and beyond for our patients. The trust would like to thank them for their continued commitment.”