Phase two of the redevelopment of the West Cumberland Hospital has finally begun.

Work was halted in 2015 after the project d because it was £10m over budget.

However,the £90m redevelopment was revived, although on a lesser scale.

Phase one of the project was completed in May 2019 with the opening of a new diagnostics suite housing cardiology, breast screening and a vascular laboratory.

More delays were then experienced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Demolition of the old hospital is finally underway, however, after contractors GBM were able to return to the site after lockdown.

A North Cumbria ICC spokesman said: "Workers are following strict social distancing guidelines and are currently working with a limited crew to a carry out the essential works."

The work makes way for phase two of the redevelopment which is expected to cost around £33m.

This will include 60 inpatient beds, encompassing Elderly Care, Step Down facilities and End of life care.

The plans also include a Short Stay Paediatric Assessment Unit, Assessment area and seven inpatient beds.

The cost includes the demolition and major landscaping.

Missing, however, are the services initially promised but which disappeared due to costs and the NHS overhaul after the Success Regime report.

These included renal and chemotherapy, therapies, pre-assessment, consultant-led maternity (obstetrics), gynaecology, midwife-led maternity unit and office space.

It was also hoped that there would be a phase three, which has also been shelved in the meantime.

This would have seen the establishment of a new build academic campus, in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire (Uclan), and was estimated to cost a further £13m.

The spokesman said this week that while there were not plans for phase three "it is still a dream we have for the future."

She added: "The phase two redevelopment brings a huge upgrade in facilities for both staff and patients.

"It creates a much improved environment, whilst retaining bed capacity and services for the acute site. "

The demolition work is expected to be completed by December.