TWO MPs have urged the public to stick to the rules as pressure intensifies at the their local hospitals.

The News & Star revealed on Sunday the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS NHS Foundation Trust ­— which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital ­— had been placed into Opel 4 Alert.

The NHS definition of the conditions triggering an Opel 4 Alert state: “Pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care. There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised.”

"My interpretation on what they said is it is very challenging at their hospitals, but they are managing things and managing to cope," explained Carlisle MP John Stevenson.

"They have got contingency plans in place if numbers were to accelerate."

Mr Stevenson has a message for everyone in the county. "Follow the rules to help us get through this without putting further pressure on the health service," he said.

"I have been very impressed by the way they have handled matters so far and the staff have been exceptional.

"We all have to play our part to keep numbers down and follow the rules and stop the place being overwhelmed."

Addressing criticisms aimed at the Government that it was too slow to put the country into lockdown, Mr Stevenson said: "It was always a difficult judgement and very difficult to assess when is the right time.

"If we had gone in early when we came out we might have still had increased numbers.

"It is a judgement call."

Copeland MP Trudy Harrison said: "Our goal is for 13.9 million people to be vaccinated by mid February which means the first four priority groups, as agreed by the JCVI, will have their initial jab," she said. "Across Cumbria we are on course and with the addition of the Oxford Astra-Zeneca vaccine joining the existing Pfizer BioNTech programme I am increasingly confident."