BUILDING work has begun at Maryport hospital, as part of plans to improve facilities for day care and rehabilitation.

The cottage hospital, in Ewanrigg Road, lost its beds at the end of September last year, despite a fierce fight to keep them open.

But campaigners secured a commitment to keep the hospital open, and use it as a base to develop more care in the local area, reducing the need for long trips to hospital.

This is part of wider NHS plans to create care hubs - dubbed Integrated Care Communities (ICCs) - across north and west Cumbria.

Zoe Larmour, who is leading this work in Maryport and Cockermouth, said: “We have reduced the pressure on the acute hospital services by bringing people to the hospital for treatment and also by being able to take treatments to people’s homes with the district nursing service.”“We are looking forward to bringing even more services here to make sure people are getting care closer to their homes.” and easing pressure on the main hospitals’ services.”

The building work will create extra space, improve the layout and ambience.

Nursing staff at Maryport hospital have received extra training to enable them to administer more treatments to patients such as transfusions and intravenous infusions and also to catheterise patients. This means that more services can be delivered to more people from Maryport hospital.

Zoe added: “When we were ward based we were only able to deliver treatment to the small numbers of inpatients. Now we are delivering care to an average of 38* people a week as day patients. They come to the hospital and see the same staff, they receive excellent care and they get it on their doorstep. We have increased our district nursing capacity so now an average of 34* patients receive home visits every week.

“The rehabilitation team are also working in partnership with the GP surgery to help support patients who we know are more at risk of falls. By giving advice and support early we will reduce the number of people who suffer from falls and help keep people independent and mobile.

“We are also looking to expand the services that we deliver and we are currently in talks with the hospital staff at the West Cumberland hospital to look at the options for offering pre- operative assessments and respiratory care from Maryport hospital.”

Building work started at the hospital recently to knock walls down and create the space that is needed to deliver more services and to make the area a welcoming and calm area for patients to receive their treatment. It is expected that the work will be completed by the summer.

*Average number of patients who received care from January and February 2019