AN MP has said moving hospital facilities further away from south Cumbria could have ‘devastating consequences’ for residents, amid a proposed hospital merger plan.

On Wednesday, MP Tim Farron met with the Health Minister Edward Argar as part of his campaign to stop plans that could see the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital merge onto a single site.

During the meeting, Mr Farron made the case that moving acute services such as A&E further away from the South Lakes would have ‘devastating consequences’ for patients.

Meanwhile MP for Barrow and Furness, Simon Fell said while it was important to ensure patients did not have to travel further than necessary for treatment, it was ‘prudent’ to explore where shared services could result in ‘better outcomes’.

As part of a government plan to build dozens of new hospital facilities the Royal Preston Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary could be replaced with either a single or two new hospitals.

The proposed merger of the two sites into one has made it onto a longlist of ten options drawn up by the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme.

Other options have been set out including the construction of a new hospital in both the Lancaster and Preston area.

It was revealed last year that Lancashire had been selected as one of the 40 areas where new hospital facilities could be built over the next decade as part of the multi-billion-pound programme.

After confirming the funding Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government was determined to "deliver the biggest hospital-building programme in a generation."

“The new hospitals programme provides an opportunity to rationalise the hospital estate and make sure that care is given in new facilities that actually meet the needs of medical practitioners and the patients who use them,” said Mr Fell.

“We need to maintain links between communities and healthcare provision so that patients don’t end up having to travel ever further from care, but it’s prudent to look at where shared services can be delivered if it means better outcomes, improves staff retention and recruitment, and helps the communities that those hospitals serve.”

Speaking after his meeting, Mr Farron said: “I’m extremely grateful to the minister and his team for meeting with me and listening to our case.

“It was clear that he understood the impact longer journeys for residents here in the South Lakes would have on people’s health, especially the elderly.

“I really want to see investment and improvements to local hospital services, particularly at Westmorland General, but that simply cannot come at the expense of forcing people to travel even further for vital treatment.”