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Topping Out The £90 Million New West Cumberland Hospital

Cumbria’s community leaders gathered on the site of the new £90 million redevelopmentof West Cumberland Hospital this morning for an official “topping out” ceremony.

Topping out is a traditional builders’ rite which takes place when the building reaches its highest point. The topping out ceremony was organised by the Trust in conjunction with construction partners Laing O’Rourke to celebrate the hospital redevelopment reaching this landmark.

Jamie Reed MP for Copeland and Shadow Spokesman for Health, performed the ceremony using a huge silver spanner to tighten the last bolt on the last concrete panel erected on the roof of the structure. He also planted a yew tree, traditionally used in topping out ceremonies, which will be planted in the grounds once the site is fully landscaped.

Mr Reed said: “I was delighted to be asked to perform this traditional ceremony which signals that the new West Cumberland Hospital is well on its way. I have toured the site and firmly believe that the new West Cumberland Hospital will be a world-class facility for the people of West Cumbria.

“We are now reaching a very exciting phase in the redevelopment and we can now see how the synergies will work in the new hospital with an expanded integrated emergency floor, seven first class theatres, new diagnostic services including MRI, and maternity facility.”

Ian Gordon, Chairman of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The £90 million redevelopment of West Cumberland signals the signal biggest investment into the healthcare of West Cumbria for over half-a-century.

“Building the new hospital has given our clinical teams a real opportunity to look at all services, to develop best practice and to bring teams of clinicians closer together so that they can work collaboratively in a way they haven’t been able to do so in the past.

“I am absolutely confident that the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital will deliver world class care from a world class hospital.”

The main structure and envelope of the new building are now in place and the construction work remains on track for completion in December 2014.

Construction partner Laing O’Rourke has built the facility using a process known as “design for manufacture and assembly” whereby pre-cast panels and service units for electricity, water and gas are manufactured off site and then transported to Whitehaven to be assembled on site. Not only has this saved time and money, it is also safer and more environmentally friendly.

In areas of the hospital where the structure has been completed, the internal “fit out” is already well underway.

Steven Kinninmonth, Project Leader for Laing O’Rourke, said: “It’s really exciting to see the structure now almost complete and on programme. It’s fantastic to see that some of the real benefits of our design methods gives us greater control over quality and allows us to remain on programme.”