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.

But campaigners secured a commitment to keep the hospital itself 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 local 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.

It will include knocking down walls down to create a new layout, now the hospital is no longer being used for overnight care.

It is expected that the work will be completed by the summer.

As part of the plan to remove overnight beds, health chiefs agreed to reinvest savings in developing community care.

As part of this, 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.