Temporary coronavirus hospitals in Cumbria 'mothballed'

Cumbria's four temporary hospitals for patients recovering from coronavirus have not been used - and two are now being packed away.

The army were brought in to transform sport and leisure centres into wards in Carlisle, Whitehaven, Kendal and Barrow.

Penrith Leisure Centre was held in reserve in case it was needed.

Privacy screening, hospital standard beds with bedside lockers with arrangements for appropriate catering and sanitation facilities were all set up in case they were needed.

More than 150 volunteers were recruited and trained to provide patient support, with supervision from nursing and other health professionals.

Carlisle and Barrow's makeshift hospitals are now being "mothballed", with equipment and resources going into storage, as main hospitals in the county have been able to cope with the demand.

Peter Rooney, chief operating officer for NHS North Cumbria CCG, said: "The NHS is very grateful to the many members of the public who volunteered to work in the centres, and to the local organisations which helped with the development work.

"At the time we were seeing high numbers of hospital admissions and the volunteers who came forward did so selflessly. There was no doubt lots of nervousness at our volunteer training sessions, but also incredible generosity and commitment.

"We are also grateful to people across Cumbria who have been following the social-distancing and hand-washing guidance - there is no doubt that this has helped prevent our hospitals being overwhelmed and we'll need everyone's support to carry on with that as lockdown eases."

Credit: ITV News

Kendal and Whitehaven will continue to be on hand in case of a second spike now or in the winter.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, Chair of the Strategic Co-ordinating Group for Cumbria, said: "Through the fantastic efforts of the two hospital Trusts in building capacity, combined with the effects of the lockdown measures, the numbers of cases were contained within hospital premises - but at times it was very close.

"We were extremely relieved that the Recovery Centres were not occupied but the potential for a 'second spike' of Coronavirus cases is very real and it would be unwise to dispose of these facilities in their entirety.

"Instead they will be mothballed and the resources kept in reserve so they can be swiftly reinstated if required."