CUMBRIA’S temporary covid ‘recovery centres’ are unlikely to be needed in the coming months because hospital bosses expect not to be “overwhelmed”, says the county’s Assistant Chief Constable.

Andy Slattery said the current expectation is that seriously ill Covid-19 patients in the county will be treated in local hospitals.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, leisure centres across the county were turned into temporary 'recovery centres' for coronavirus patients amid fears that Cumbria's hospitals would be overwhelmed.

The centres were designed for patients too unwell to return home but not ill enough to remain in hospital.

In Carlisle, the Sands Centre was transformed within a matter of days - with most of the work done by soldiers who were drafted in.

Earlier this year, as the lockdown went into effect, temporary recovery centres were set up at locations such as the Sands Centre in Carlisle. All of the equipment used to create the facility is now in storage.

Mr Slattery said: “I’ve recently had communication from both hospital trusts outlining their winter preparedness plans, and I am assured by the hospitals that there is a suitable escalation process within the NHS to cope with the anticipated demand over the winter.

“So at this point the hospitals in Cumbria do not expect to be overwhelmed with demand and expect to be able to deal with that demand on hospital premises.”

The county’s Local Resilience Forum (overseeing the battle with covid) has plans for all eventualities - including the need to help the NHS if hospitals are overwhelmed.

“We have a number of options and one is the reassembly of recovery centres in the community,” he said. That could be done in a matter of days.

Four leisure centres and a school in Cumbria are to be turned into makeshift hospitals to create 500 extra beds amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The county's covid recovery centres were created at Whitehaven Sports Centre - with 60 beds - and the one at the Sands Centre in Carlisle, which had a similar number of beds, were stood down in June.

Though considered an essential precaution, the temporary beds were not needed.

Mr Slattery said 'step-down' care was still an option should it be needed, though the form it will take was still being explored.