New West Cumberland Hospital 'on track' to open on time

Artist's impression of new West Cumberland Hospital Image copyright North Cumbria NHS Trust
Image caption The new West Cumberland Hospital will include an A&E unit

Health chiefs say a £90m hospital is on track to open on schedule despite a delay in its handover.

The new West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven is set to open its doors to patients in April.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said system tests by construction partner Laing O'Rourke were "taking longer than anticipated".

The firm was due to handover the building to the trust yesterday. It is now expected to happen next month.

'Virtually finished'

Les Morgan, director of redevelopment for the trust, said: "Crucially, this does not impact on the planned opening date for patients next year.

"The building is virtually finished and there are now some minor works to be completed which is common in a project as large as this.

"The trust had already built in capacity for some extra time so we remain on track for April."

Staff training and induction will begin next month, he added.

Large parts of the existing hospital, at Hensingham, are being bulldozed and rebuilt with others completely refurbished.

However, campaigners are concerned hospital bosses are "stripping" key services with some facilities having been moved elsewhere and others under review.

The trust said moving services, such as those for trauma and cardiac cases, had led to fewer deaths.

The organisation is in special measures after being criticised over mortality rates and care standards. Fears have also been raised over staff shortages.

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