A local university is set to play a significant role in the future health of people in Cumbria by providing resources and expertise to help the region cope with a "unique health challenge" over the next two decades.
The University of Cumbria is to work with the local PCT, county and district councils to help deliver identified requirements for changes to Cumbria's healthcare.
The university's Visiting Professor and Director of Public Health, Dr John Ashton, said the county faced health inequalities across the region in the next 20 years.
"Cumbria faces a unique health challenge," he said. "Put simply, we need to do things differently."
"My work with the University of Cumbria will involve looking at health courses as well as ensuring that resources and research are focused on tackling the challenges that a changing demographic will bring."
Dr Ashton explained: "In future, the geographical challenges of travelling across Cumbria, coupled with the increasing demands of an ageing population, will see the emergence of the "Closer to Home" approach to delivering healthcare, with NHS services delivered to people in their homes.
"For this to succeed, training and resources must be put in place. There is no way the NHS alone can cater for all future demand."
Dr Ashton said that due to longer life expectancy, Cumbria could be the home to as many as 2,500 centenarians in the next 30 years.
He also claimed that since parts of the region vary greatly in education, opportunities and social mobility, Cumbria faced "a challenge to change lifestyles and social attitudes" and "not put a strain on public health resources", he said.
Dr Robin Talbot, Dean of the Faculty of Health, Science and Social Care at the University, agreed that the University has a major role in tackling healthcare challenges.
"We aim to gather and improve health intelligence to deal with variations in Cumbrian lifestyles and attitudes to health, as well as building skills to allow further and higher education to play its part in equipping people to care for themselves," he said.