Amid mounting pressure, North West Ambulance Service said this week it was managing to cope with the rising Covid-19 infection rate in North Cumbria.

With demand increasing, the service is increasingly having to juggle call priorities and in some cases people are having to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive.

With 36 ambulances in the county, which has normally been sufficient, NWAS has plans in place in case there is more demand.

Proud of the staff and all the hard work the have been doing, Roger Jones, interim head of services for NWAS said: “We have an increased staff absence as a result of Covid-19, but we’re managing. We have a number of staff ready to get behind the wheel should we need them and as a region we’re able to move the vehicles cross county.”

He continued: “We’re a busy service.

"We also have first responders who play a vital role in the communities.

"We currently have a 25 per cent increase in call,s most of which are Covid related, but we also have our winter calls.”

Call handlers are processing on average 4,800 calls and on Tuesday staff attended more than 3,000 incidents.

At the moment the south of the county is coping better as it has a lower infection rate, so vehicles can be moved to North and West Cumbria.

And Mr Jones appreciated the help that was on offer from other emergency services: “We are thankful for the support from the other blue light services, but at the moment we’re managing," he said.

"We will ask for help from them if we need it."

Cumbria Constabulary’s assistant chief constable, Andrew Slattery, added that at certain times the ambulance service had its entire fleet waiting at hospitals.

He said: “At times all of the available ambulances in North Cumbria were waiting outside hospitals and that is a fact, but NWAS is a large organisation and has the ability to draft ambulances backwards and forwards across the whole region.

“Just because the North Cumbria ambulances are tied up doesn’t mean there are no ambulances.

"It’s entirely possible for police officers to be behind the wheel of ambulances and the firefighters and police officers could help the ambulance service if required.”