New services will be introduced to the Westmorland General Hospital, including a new permanent CT scanner.
The plans mean mortuary services at the Kendal hospital – not used for over six months – will move to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said.
The location of the new scanner is still being planned by the trust’s clinical teams.
Mortuary services will be fully transferred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where the majority of mortuary services are already based.
Currently, patients who need a CT scan at the Westmorland General Hospital are scanned in a mobile unit located in the car park outside the outpatients department or have to travel to Furness General Hospital or Lancaster.
Until recently, the trust has been required to maintain a mortuary provision at the Kendal hospital as part of the Cumbria Resilience Forum mass casualty incident plans.
Due to changes in local and national NHS planning, capacity in the mortuaries at Furness General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has been increased through national funding over the last year.
The Cumbria Resilience Forum has since agreed that the additional capacity at Furness is acceptable to meet their requirements, which means the trust can to take forward its plans to use the space to expand and invest in clinical services at the Westmorland General Hospital.
The mortuary storage facilities have not been used since August 2020 and were used in only a small number of cases from January to August 2020.
All post mortem activity will continue to take place at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary as it has done for some time.
Kate Maynard, chief operating officer at the trust, said: “We would like to reassure everyone that this change isn’t about us taking services away from the Westmorland General Hospital, in fact, we are investing in and improving clinical services for local people – including a new, permanent CT scanner.
“Alongside that, we will be able to offer the mortuary service to people who need it in a significantly enhanced environment with improved facilities for everyone.
“Our main priority remains the safe and sustainable delivery of healthcare services to the local population, and we are committed to ensuring that we continue to invest and develop services at WGH for the benefit of the local communities.”
It is planned that the mortuary will be fully decommissioned by the end of March and the expansion of clinical services into the area due to be completed during 2021/22.