A WEST Cumbrian woman said she may have to travel out of the county for a knee operation due to soaring waiting times.

Bernadette Bowness, 66, of Egremont needs a complex operation to her knee which would need to be performed at the Carlisle Infirmary.

However waiting times are over 12 months and she fears her condition will worsen if she waits so long.

She said: "I can't be guaranteed a bed in the near future and I'm waiting to see if and when I can get surgery. I'm looking at going further afield.

"The issue needs to be addressed, how is it taking so long? They are breaching Government rules by making people wait over 12 months."

Bernadette worked as a nurse and midwife at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven for 46 years and blamed the long waiting list on the reduction in number of beds available for this type of operation at Carlisle.

But North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said the issue is to do with patient flow.

A spokesman for the trust, which runs the Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals, said: "We are sorry that some patients are waiting longer than 12 months which is much longer than we would like and we are doing as much as we can to address this.

"The pressure relates to patient flow through the hospital rather than numbers of beds open. We already have additional beds open at the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital at the moment due to the pressures we are currently experiencing and our focus is on working with our partners to ensure 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."

The trust added that although hip and knee surgery does take place at the trust, people do have an option to go out of the county to reduce waiting lists.