North Cumbria

Our long-term partnership with North Cumbria

Our work North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (North Cumbria) began in 2011, after the trust board made a decision to identify an acquisition partner which would provide the stable leadership required in order to improve care at its hospitals in Carlisle and Whitehaven, as well as managing the organisation within budget. Following a robust bidding process, Northumbria Healthcare was selected as preferred acquisition partner and a process to acquire commenced in 2012.

This acquisition process was halted in 2013 after North Cumbria was identified as one of 14 NHS trusts nationally with consistently high mortality rates to be reviewed as part of the Keogh Review process. Following publication of the Keogh Review in July 2013, North Cumbria was placed into ‘special measures’ and officially ‘buddied’ with Northumbria Healthcare as one of the country’s top performing NHS organisations.

Throughout this time, both organisations have been collaborating on a range of areas – ranging from shared services through to clinical quality:

  • Leadership, strategy and policy
  • Clinical support and paediatrics
  • Finance
  • Human resources and organisational development
  • Quality/patient experience
  • Safety and culture
  • Service improvement
  • Communication and engagement
  • Estates and facilities
  • IT and operational


Our work with North Cumbria over the past five years has been all encompassing and has helped to deliver a multitude of positive improvements, not only for staff, but on a range of clinical indicators for patient care.  We are now working together, as part of the Success Regime in West, North and East Cumbria, who have also identified the significant benefits and support brought by Northumbria as part of buddying arrangements. These include:

  • Improvement in mortality rates
  • Clinical leadership through the secondment of clinical leaders from Northumbria
  • Specific clinical support to the West Cumberland Hospital to sustain acute medical services
  • Additional senior financial personnel and support
  • Access to clinical and managerial training and development
  • Access and provision of back office function support
  • Senior leadership in communications and engagement

In order to stabilise and build on the existing long-term partnership with North Cumbria, the relationship will be formalised via a legal management contract as part of the Northumbria Foundation Group.