Monday, January 26, 2015

West Cumberland Hospital fire update

The local NHS Trust has confirmed that the fire which extensively damaged the energy centre of the new West Cumberland Hospital on Friday night has not damaged any other part of the hospital.

Services continue to run normally and patient care has not been affected in any way.

Most important of all, as I blogged yesterday, thanks to the hard work of the fire brigade and by the mercy of God, nobody was hurt.

However, the loss of the energy centre will delay the move to the new buildings, and almost certainly also delay the point where the hospital gets our of special measures.

An expert forensic investigator from Holland has been brought in to assist Cumbria Fire and Rescue in determining the cause of the fire, and will arrive tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fire at West Cumberland hospital destroys energy centre - thankfully no casualties.

The  Whitehaven News Website reports that there was a serious fire in the boiler house at West Cumberland hospital on Friday night. Firefighters arrived at the hospital at 10.45pm on Friday evening and worked for four hours through the night to control the fire.

WCH's biomass fuel plant was destroyed in the fire.

Mercifully there were no reports of injuries and the hospital was not evacuated. It is understood there was no impact on the rest of the hospital.

At the height of the blaze there were five fire engines at the scene. Specialist fire investigators were due to return on Saturday to look into the cause of the blaze.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said all services continue to run as normal but there will be a knock on effect for the move in date of services to the new building, which was planned for April this year.

In a statement, the Trust said: 

"This has come as absolutely devastating news to the Trust, to staff and the new hospital project team who were gearing up for a formal handover of keys next week. It is unclear at this very early stage, how the fire broke out or how long the energy centre will take to repair."

Ann Farrar, the Trust's chief executive, added: “This is absolutely devastating for me, the staff and the local community. We must let the investigators do their job to understand why this has happened at this time. We were all looking forward to moving into the new hospital and none of us can believe this has happened."

Les Morgan, project director for the new West Cumberland Hospital said: "The whole team are feeling pretty distraught this morning at this news which will also come as a shock for our staff. The whole organisation was gearing up for the big move in April and we can’t quite believe this has happened.

“It is unclear at this stage the exact circumstances surrounding the fire which will need to be formally investigated by the fire service. The people of West Cumbria can be absolutely reassured that we will work as hard as we possibly can to get things back on track as quickly as possible.”

“We'd like to stress that this has had no impact on patient care and all services continue as normal."

Let's all just be very grateful that, thank God, nobody was hurt and that there was not too much damage other than to the boiler house and biomass plant - and thank our brave firefighters for their efforts.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Phase Two of West Cumberland Hospital rebuild approved

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust has announced that the Outline Business Case for phase two of the redevelopment of West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven has been approved by the NHS Trust Development Authority Investment Committee.

The Investment Committee approved the total capital cost of £31.795m subject to approval of the Final Business Case (FBC) when final costs are provided.

Phase one of the redevelopment is almost complete, with the new hospital building opening to patients in April 2015. Work will begin on phase two in summer 2015 which will involve completely refurbishing parts of the existing building and the creation of a new main entrance and car park.

Les Morgan, director of redevelopment for the Trust said: “This is further cause for celebration for our staff and the community of West Cumbria as we have now achieved the necessary approvals to keep the full redevelopment moving forward.

“Subject to FBC approval, phase two can begin with earnest after the new hospital opens in spring. Phase two will allow us to transform parts of the existing building to match up to our brand new building and an impressive new main entrance and car park will be created.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the clinical and staff teams who have contributed their ideas and expertise to ensure our new hospital is a state-of-art facility ready to deliver modern healthcare and the new hospital project team who have steered the project through all of its stages.”

You can find the statement on their site at

Monday, January 05, 2015

A superb report on A&E under pressure

My attention has been drawn by an employee at West Cumberland Hospital to an excellent article by Robert Colville which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Friday, based on some time spent observing what was happening in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. The title refers to A&E in crisis but the article covers the whole hospital system.

It is an account of a system under enormous pressure - and which would be under enormous pressure whoever was in government - to which most of the human beings involved are responding magnificently but which should be of concern to all of us.

The article and a short video clip are available on the Telegraph website here and it should be read by anyone with an interest in the NHS.