The story of how north Cumbria's hospitals combated the unprecedented threat of coronavirus has been laid out.

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, has been compiling a series of steps it took to prepare and respond to the crisis.

The trust says its response can be split into three parts: protect, save and renew. Protect was the work done to protect staff; Save was everything done to reduce mortality from the virus and limit the disruption to other services; and renew looks at how the trust recovered from the first peak of the coronavirus and how it will now restart services by building on the lessons of the last few months.

In the protect phase, the trust says work began in January to prepare for the pandemic, with hospital sites swiftly moving to build bed capacity.

A combination of a reduction in services offered by the trust and a move to discharge patients freed up more than 200 beds across the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital.

Designated pathways were created in hospitals for patients with confirmed or suspected coronavirus and patients with other conditions in the trust’s two main hospitals, with Covid-19 pathways created in community hospitals.

Working alongside local councils, the military and the NHS, additional capacity was prepared at leisure centres, such as at the Sands Centre in Carlisle and Whitehaven Sports Centre.

Under the protect phase of the response, a workforce hub was set up to provide support to essential services by re-purposing the work of staff to where it was most needed. Within this a medical hub made sure junior doctors were deployed on a daily basis to where they were needed the most.

A Wellbeing hub was developed which included a helpline for staff to call.

Under the save area of the response, the trust also continued to provide A&E services, urgent care and cancer treatments throughout the pandemic. Babies were continuing to be delivered.

They realigned their Virology and Immunology Team to enable them to carry out as much Covid-19 testing as possible. The team worked on changing rotas and shift patterns, meaning the trust was able to roll out the testing of all admitted patients before national guidance. The trust laboratory was the first to undertake testing outside of the Public Health England Network.

The renew phase tells the story of how the trust is hoping that the lessons learned during the pandemic will lead to improvements for staff and patients in the future.

Lyn Simpson, chief executive at the trust, said: “This is only the first part of our covid story, as we now look to renew our ways of working.

“We’ll be adding to the story on an ongoing basis to reflect our new innovations and lessons learned from the first few months.”