A UNION responsible for representing nurses has described the situation as “very serious” at north and west Cumbria’s NHS trust as staff deal with “unprecedented demand” due to coronavirus.

The Royal College of Nursing has spoken with nurses serving on the frontline across the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

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.”

Speaking after a surge of Covid-19 admissions at the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven and Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary, Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: “The situation is very serious. NHS Trusts and health and social care providers across Cumbria are trying their best to cope with unprecedented demand.

“Staff are under immense pressure and struggling to manage.”

“Our members at NCIC tell us that they are caring for more than 170 Covid-19 positive patients and anticipate more admissions in the coming days. The sheer number of patients means there is congestion and delays within the emergency departments, particularly at the Cumberland Infirmary site.

“Whilst community nursing staff report an increase in Covid-19 outbreaks in the community.”

On the News & Star Facebook page Roni Oxford commented: “So what has happened to all the nightingale hospitals? All the taxpayers money spent on them but no mention of them now.”

Ian Grierson said: “If people had put as much effort into following the rules as they do trying to break the rules would the country be in as bad and horrendous position.”

Patricia Ibrahim posted: All non-essential companies should be closed.”