MAJOR improvements to Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s 30-year-old main lifts are expected early next year.

Observant patients at the Huntingdon hospital will have noticed that one of the main lifts is frequently out of order.

The hospital's new managers, Circle Health, faced with potentially life-threatening unreliability problems in one of the lifts, have shut it down.

"The famous lift number 2 was installed when the hospital was built in 1983," said Circle's property director, Mark Cammies. "It has been out of action intermittently for about three months, and that sort of unreliability meant it was beyond safe use. I'm not going to risk having a critically-ill patient being stuck between floors."

Circle is expecting an expert report in the next two weeks with recommendations about whether the life of the two lifts can be extended by complete refurbishment or whether they will need to be replaced.

A decision will be taken in December with a view to the work being carried out next year.

Either way, the unreliable equipment will be dealt with first, so that there is always at least one serviceable lift available to patients, Mr Cammies added.