A NURSE serving on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus has described the situation as “horrendous” as patients are moved from intensive-care beds in the North East to free up capacity.

The News & Star revealed on Sunday the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS NHS Foundation Trust ­— which runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital ­— had been placed into Opel 4 Alert.

The NHS definition of the conditions triggering an Opel 4 Alert state: “Pressure in the local health and social care system continues to escalate leaving organisations unable to deliver comprehensive care. There is increased potential for patient care and safety to be compromised.”

Speaking to the News & Star, one nurse said: “It’s been horrendous the past couple of nights, relentless. Saturday, not too bad, manageable, but Sunday not so manageable.”

She said her ward was asked to treat five patients more than was feasible with the staff level, describing Sunday as a “tough night”.

“We have a lot of poorly patients on the ward. Both nights I’ve had patients deteriorating rapidly, three on Saturday, one of which I had to transfer to ITU, and three again last night,” she said. “We are working flat out, run off our feet and not able to take breaks, with minimum support from managers.”

The nurse say she and her colleagues are “are very concerned with present staffing levels we will be stretched so much we will be unable to provide an acceptable and adequate safe level of care for all our patients.”

The trust is now treating 170 patients with the virus across its sites, with a ‘small number’ of intensive care patients at the Cumberland Infirmary transferred to Newcastle to help relieve pressure.

A statement from the trust said: “Due to a significant increase in coronavirus in our community, we have seen rising admissions requiring hospitalisation over the past week and, in line with our pre-prepared plans, we have taken escalated actions to maintain services and patient safety.

"We are extremely grateful to our staff who have been working tirelessly over the past few months with no let up and continue to do so in the interests of our patients.”