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An exciting vision of West Cumberland Hospital

An exciting vision for the future of West Cumberland Hospital and the health and wellbeing of people in West Cumbria has been revealed; with huge opportunities for people in the community to help shape how it will look.

The future vision will build on plans to further redevelop the hospital site including a health village and a ‘one health’ education facility, with accommodation and university research experts working with the trust to address some of the regional and social health care challenges.

In July, NHS England announced that West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven will receive between £30-50 million to further refurbish and redevelop the hospital, and work has already started on how that can help shape the future design of the site.

Architect’s impressions From Gilling Dod Architects, who have been appointed to help take forward planning and design, show how the hospital might develop into a ‘health and care campus’ over the coming years.

Professor John Howarth, deputy chief executive at North Cumbria University Hospitals and Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have a clear vision of how we can develop and integrate health and care services over the coming months and years in order to improve the quality of care we deliver as well as the health & wellbeing of our communities. West Cumberland Hospital forms a vital part of this plan and we are currently talking to our partners about what could be provided from a health and care campus. As well as providing acute services as we do now, it could also include primary care services and a new education facility in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

“One of the most important elements of this development is community involvement and we are already talking to members of the community to discuss how we can take this forward together with their input. We have secured the funds and developed initial plans but we now want the community to help us shape a vibrant health village right her in West Cumbria.”

Health leaders have already presented initial plans to the West Cumbria Community Forum and together they are exploring how they work together with the community to really improve the overall health and wellbeing of people in West Cumbria

Archdeacon Richard Pratt, Chair of the West Cumbria Community Forum, which is facilitated by Healthwatch Cumbria said: “There was a real buzz at the meeting where we discussed this earlier this month:  all who spoke said that they were excited at the prospect of being involved in working out how to use this opportunity to make a difference in West Cumbria. We recognised that there are bound to be some hiccups and difficulties but they must not be allowed to spoil the growing trust between the NHS System and the wider community.  Several people made the point that both the NHS and the community need to change so that the health and wellbeing of the whole population improves.  It was a very positive meeting and we all left with a determination to make things happen over the next 12 months.”‘

Sean Kember, director of Gilling Dod Architects, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed once more to support the Trust in continuing the journey of developing healthcare in Cumbria. The prospect of a health campus on the West Cumberland Hospital site provides an exciting opportunity for the local community and we look forward to working with the project team, staff and the local community on this multi-agency collaboration to build on the achievements delivered in the initial phase of hospital development, which opened in October 2015”.

In order to allow for future developments, enabling works are currently being carried out by Thomas Armstrong who have been appointed as the main contractor. They are focussed on carrying out works to allow for future demolition of the old buildings at the front of the hospital which will make a big impression on the appearance of the hospital from Homewood Road.

In addition, work has just started on developing a new permanent suite for breast screening, cardiology and vascular services which will be located in the old Fairfield ward. The Henderson chemotherapy unit will also soon be relocated to a temporary new home in the old maternity block.