Prof Dominic Harrison, director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen posted his weekly column for the Lancashire Telegraph.

In the column he said that if everyone acted together "we can keep the NHS and social care system safe and available for those who need it most".

Our readers have reacted to the news online of hospitals being overwhelmed.

Angela Ingram said: "This is nothing new. I have first-hand experience of a 12-hour wait in A&E before even seeing a doctor. We were told this was because the patient wasn’t priority. Very sadly he passed away less than 36 hours later."

Samantha Whittle said: "Might have something to do with everyone having to send kids to school and stand out in the rain waiting to go in as not allowed in yard due to Covid. Then have to sit in class all day with all the windows open to stop Covid and heating on full blast. Then having to wait outside for parent to collect them and take all their germs home because of the cold."

Charlie Clarke said: "They’re always overwhelmed!"

Tony McDonald said: "Having the vaccine does not prevent you spreading it."

Alan Holt said: "The NHS should start looking inwards to become more efficient, save money and h make more space available. This happens every year. Can't keep throwing more and more money at it without some form of return."