- Video report by Fiona Marley Paterson
The army has been called in to turn four Cumbrian leisure centres and a school into temporary hospitals to treat patients with coronavirus.
The care facilities in Carlisle, Whitehaven, Penrith, Kendal and Barrow will provide 500 beds for those recovering from the virus to move into to free up more space in the region's hospitals.
The military will set them up for NHS staff and volunteers to run if they become needed.
The centres that will be turned into field hospitals are:
- Sands Centre in Carlisle
- Penrith Leisure centre
- Whitehaven Sports Centre
- Kendal Leisure Centre
- Furness Academy in Barrow
The Police stress they are to allow the county to prepare for the worst case scenario and it's still hoping they won't be used.
Andrew Slattery, Assistant Chief Constable and Chair of the multi-agency Cumbria Strategic Co-ordination Group, said:“These facilities have been arranged locally in anticipation of the likely demand on NHS bed space.
"The full operational model of how the new facilities would work is still being developed. But work now will ensure that the basic physical infrastructure is in place should it be needed.
"This is a prudent and sensible approach given how this pandemic has developed in other countries.
“I am very grateful to all of those people who have helped us achieve this and the Strategic Coordinating Group will continue to support our NHS colleagues in any way we can.”
Lyn Simpson, Chief Executive of North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We welcome the news that additional bed capacity will be available to us in the coming weeks in anticipation of increased demand on our services.
"We are very grateful for the fantastic response from our multi agency partners in securing this additional capacity, and we will now work together to plan how these facilities can be used."
Dr Shahedal Bari, Medical Director, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust said: "On behalf of University Hospitals Of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, I would like to thank each and every one of the multi-agency teams involved, who by working together have made it possible to establish these additional beds to support our patients during these unprecedented circumstances in Morecambe Bay.
“We continue to be overwhelmed by the response from our staff and within the community who are going above and beyond every day."
It was announced last week that London’s ExCel Centre will open as a makeshift hospital to help deal with the increased pressures on the NHS from coronavirus.
The Ministry of Defence are helping to set up the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital, which is expected to have around 4,000 beds in two separate wards.
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