A vital new health unit has opened at a hospital in a bid to ease patient waiting lists.

The new £1.2 million Endoscopy Unit at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle will aim to see 500 patients a month over a six month period.

An endoscopy is a procedure where organs inside your body are looked at using a long, thin, flexible tube that has a light and camera at one end called an endoscope.

Images of the inside of your body are shown on a television screen.

The procedures that take place in the new unit will help diagnose and monitor a range of different conditions.

Lead nurse endoscopist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC), Deborah Gibson, said: "Despite the best efforts of our teams at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital, we have struggled to keep up with the demands on our service.

"During the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, nationally, we were asked to only carry out urgent procedures for cancer patients and gastrointestinal bleeds.

"This meant our waiting list for less urgent diagnostic, surveillance and therapeutic patients grew. In addition, there has been a five per cent year-on-year increase in demand for Endoscopy services across the country.”

The new unit is being run independently by Remedy Healthcare staff who have worked with the NCIC team to ensure their processes and protocols are in the line with those of the Trust.

The self-contained unit has new equipment; a treatment room; a reception area; admission and preparation room and recovery space.

Ms Gibson added: "We have worked closely with the Remedy Healthcare team and we are confident that they will provide a high quality service to our patients.

"We are sorry that a lot of our patients have been waiting longer than we would like, we know it is frustrating so we are pleased that we now have additional capacity in place to help us see a lot more patients.

"We would ask that people please attend their appointment and if they cannot, please let us know as soon as possible so it can be offered to somebody else."