A SENIOR north Cumbrian NHS boss has spoken about how hospitals in north Cumbria are readying for a possible “second wave” of Covid-19 this winter.

Speaking at last week’s joint annual members’ meeting and annual general meeting for the North Cumbria Integrated Care Trust and North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, Michael Smillie, NCIC trust executive director of finance, digital and estates, said that “in north Cumbria, we haven’t yet seen the scale of cases that exist in the wider north east or north west regional centres at the moment”.

But he said that the trust is “expecting an increase over the next few weeks, and we’ve seen one over the last couple of weeks to some degree, and obviously we are preparing accordingly.”

He said that “during the first peak, the trust coped well on the whole”.

“All our Covid admissions were accommodated, and we were able to deliver treatment.

“Our treatment outcomes compare well to national benchmarks.

“That’s been really good for our clinicians, growing their confidence, and helping them prepare for a second peak.

“Our frontline colleagues and support staff have just been really amazing, through all of this.”

Despite there being a lot of anxiety, with everybody having family members, and working in difficult circumstances.

Mr Smillie added that thankfully, the trust “always had enough PPE, even at times if the makes and models of that PPE were changing”.

“The nation was importing supplies from all over the world, and we had to keep pace with that,” he said.

“Locally, we worked with social care and primary care.”

He stressed that there was one key factor in ensuring the pressure on the county’s hospitals was reduced.

“It’s really important the population observes all the advice and rules, so that we don’t become overwhelmed.”

At present, the trust is “currently delivering about three quarters of the elective treatments each week that we were before the pandemic. That’s quite a good restoration of services,” he said.

“Obviously, we want to build on that.

“As things proceed, we’ll seek to build on that as much as we can.

“If numbers of Covid cases go up, and hospital cases go up, that could restrict that.”

He stressed that this what the trust is “trying to avoid, to prevent further delays to people’s treatment”.

Mr Smillie added that for the north Cumbria trust, “the biggest challenge we face, as a trust looking ahead, is that we need to treat people who become unwell with Covid during the winter season, on top of the usual rises in hospital admissions, while also delivering the elective treatments”.