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Storm Desmond clean up and heavy rains still hamper health services

Nurses and other healthcare professionals have been praised for defying the floods in Cumbria and north-east England

Heavy rain is continuing to hamper health provision across northern England following severe flooding caused by Storm Desmond at the weekend, but some services are returning to normal.

A limited number of operations have taken place in Cumbria and Lancashire today with cancellations mainly focused on routine appointments for community, mental health and childrens’ services.

A further 12 hours of rain was expected to hit the region during the course of today, but nothing as severe as the deluge on Friday, when roads were blocked and bridges destroyed leaving many health workers unable to reach patients or hospitals.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said most routine appointments for services are due to resume today from its 200 sites.

Its director of quality and nursing Sara Munro said: ‘We have been able to maintain all of our urgent and priority services throughout the disruption.

‘Despite very challenging conditions, we have been able to staff all of our inpatient units and check all of our priority patients which has been particularly challenging for our community staff.

‘We have had outstanding support from the local community, emergency services and rescue workers without which it would not have been possible.

‘We have also had outstanding support from our staff many of whom have gone above and beyond their duty during this incident in order to make sure that our patients are safe.

‘We are supporting more than 80 staff members who have been personally affected by the floods and we are very grateful to our workforce who are pulling together to support each other.’

Clean ups are already underway in Carlisle, Keswick and Cockermouth, but the Environment Agency has said flood warnings may be reissued.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust was promising ‘business as normal’ today after the mains power supply was restored to all buildings at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, which had been running on back-up generators since Sunday.

Elective surgery was expected to go ahead as planned at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

All outpatient appointments were running as normal from today on both sites, as were chemotherapy and endoscopy services.

Major trauma and stroke patients are now able to be treated at the Cumberland Infirmary again, following the restoration of CT scan services.

Executive chief operating officer Helen Ray said: ‘We very much expect to be back to business as usual, thanks in large part to the resilience and hard work of our fantastic staff.

‘These devastating floods have affected us all in one way or another, but so many of our colleagues have gone out of their way to come into work, and I would like to pay tribute to them, especially those who have offered to come in and cover for those unable to make it in.’

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust said services at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) had returned to normal but outpatient clinics at the Queen Victoria Hospital have been cancelled due to power outage concerns.

All elective surgeries due to take place at RLI were scheduled to resume as planned but clinics were limited due to power stability problems.

All staff were advised to come into work as normal and advise line managers if this is not possible.

A spokesperson said: ‘While the recent storm has caused major disruption to Lancashire and Cumbria, the hospitals within UHMBT are coping as well as can be expected.’

NHS England’s medical director for the region Craig Melrose again paid tribute to nurses and other staff who defied the conditions to continue to help patients.

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