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Further investment at Westmorland General Hospital leads to changes to mortuary services

18th February 2021

UHMBT media release. 

To allow for further investment in clinical services at Westmorland General Hospital (WGH), University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is changing the way in which mortuary services are provided at the hospital.

To make it possible for the space to be used for the expansion of other clinical services, including a new permanent CT scanner, mortuary services at WGH are being fully transferred to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) - where the majority of mortuary services are already based.

Currently, patients who need a CT scan at WGH are scanned in a mobile unit located in the car park outside the Outpatients Department or have to travel to Furness General Hospital (FGH) or the RLI.

Until recently, the Trust has been required to maintain a mortuary provision at WGH 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 FGH and the RLI has been increased through national funding over the last year.

As well as having increased capacity, the new facilities at FGH and the RLI also offer a much improved environment for families and Trust colleagues. The Cumbria Resilience Forum has since agreed that the additional capacity at FGH is acceptable to meet their requirements meaning the Trust is able to take forward its plans to use the space to expand and invest in clinical services at WGH.

The mortuary storage facilities at WGH 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 RLI as it has done for some time.

Kate Maynard, Chief Operating Officer, UHMBT, said: “We would like to reassure everyone that this change isn’t about us taking services away from WGH; in fact, we are investing in and improving clinical services at WGH 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 at WGH will be fully decommissioned by the end of March 2021; with the expansion of clinical services into the area due to be completed during 2021/22.