ADVANCED preparation work is being developed in Cumbria to combat an anticipated second wave of Covid-19 infections over the upcoming months, according to health chiefs.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has revealed it is looking to increase bed capacity and is rolling out anti flu vaccinations ahead of winter.

Trusts across the country are preparing to move into phase three of their Covid-19 responses, ahead of a possible second wave.

Kate Maynard, interim chief operating officer at UHMBT, said: “A key part of our planning is the roll out of our annual colleague influenza vaccination programme which launches in two weeks.

“To ensure as many colleagues as possible can protect themselves and those around them, we have increased the number of drop in and bookable clinics and for the first time, are launching a drive through vaccination clinic.

“This flexibility will enable colleagues working shifts or working remotely or those who are vulnerable to access the vaccination early at their convenience.”

The trust said it was looking at expanding ICU surge capacity and identifying additional beds at Furness General Hospital.

It is also considering taking on care home recovery beds and 'investing in new critical care areas at the hospital’.

Recovery centres that were previously in place could also be easily deployed.

The trust has also said it is planning for any flare ups in certain areas.

Separately, a multi-agency response - involving police, UHMBT, Barrow Borough Council, the county council and other bodies across the district - is also being prepared by Cumbria’s Local Resilience Forums.

Barrow MP Simon Fell spoke of the cross-sector preparation work that has been taking place and the need to avoid any kind of local lockdown in Furness, which would be damaging.

He said: “I think our trust has done a remarkable job throughout this crisis - in terms of how they were going to deal with peaks and troughs in demand, their response has been really well-thought-out.

“We’ve been ahead of most other parts of the UK. When I spoke with them at the height of the pandemic, they were already ahead of the curve with planning for flu season - they’re doing the work they need to in order to make sure we’re as safe as possible.

“But this is also absolutely a communal effort. It’s remarkable. People have been making a huge amount of sacrifices - the current infection levels are testament to that.

“The important thing now, as we open up the country again and as schools return, is that we don’t let a false sense of security creep in.

“We really don’t a second lockdown. I think that would be very difficult - it would mean a changing of school rotas - which would be a further setback for young people in the area - and closing of essential shops. It can and should be avoided.”