Hospitals across the county are to receive an extra £12million so they can increase the number of critical care, specialist respiratory and enhanced care beds available to patients this winter.

The additional cash, accessed from existing NHS funding, has been granted as NHS services are seeing growing numbers of patients being admitted to hospital, and more of these people are needing treatment in intensive care.

Facilities in Lancashire and South Cumbria, including those in East Lancashire are set to make improvements to their critical care so they can cope with and help with increasing winter and Covid-19 demands.

A spokesperson for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) said: "East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust have worked together to enhance critical care facilities ahead of the winter period to support people across the region.

"Patient safety remains of the highest importance and this will help support resilience during any increased Covid demands."

The Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System are now working with local trusts to see how best to divide the money.

Chief executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, speaking on behalf of hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria, Kevin McGee, said: "Throughout the pandemic, the NHS has been here for you and emergency departments have remained open.

"If you do have to go to hospital, please be assured that it is as safe as possible.

"NHS staff are following strict social distancing and hygiene measures to allow people to access care safely.

"Please do not hesitate to access emergency treatment if you need it.

"We have put measures in place across NHS services to best protect patients and staff, such as temporarily restricting hospital visiting.

"We absolutely appreciate the frustrations this creates for patients and their families and would like to thank them for their continued support during this unprecedented situation.

"As we now see rising rates of Covid in the community and with the added pressures of winter, this funding will help us to continue to deliver safe and high quality care in this new normal and meet the needs of people in Lancashire and South Cumbria."