Hospital bosses say “robust plans are in place” to ensure they cope this winter by increasing staffing levels and stocking up on flu jabs amid fears of a second spike in coronavirus.

The trust which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital is also urging people to be “mindful” of their treatment options so there isn’t an influx in people attending A&E.

It comes as the British Medical Association (BMA) warned that it will be “one of the toughest winters in the history of the NHS” with medics in the East of England tackling a backlog of care, Covid patients and the flu.

MORE: Visiting restrictions to be partially lifted at Hinchingbrooke Hospital

Graham Wilde, chief operating officer for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said it will be “difficult to predict” how Covid-19 will impact on the winter season into 2021.

He explained: “We have robust plans in place across our hospital sites to ensure that we are able to cope with the increased pressures that the winter season always brings.

“This includes increasing staffing levels, where appropriate, and working with our colleagues in community healthcare and social care to ensure we can help to get patients home safely and efficiently.

“We ask residents to be mindful of their treatment options so we don’t have an influx of emergency department attendances that could be treated by their GP, pharmacist or the local Urgent Treatment Centre.

“We are encouraging all of our staff to have a flu vaccination to help best protect their colleagues, families and patients from flu, and would urge those eligible for a vaccination in the community to do the same.

“We are also ready to support the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccination when it becomes available.”

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG emphasised that locally the NHS was “ready to manage the usual demands”, but reminded people to continue washing their hands regularly and maintain social distancing.

It was announced on Sunday (September 6) that Government data had reported a further 2,988 cases of coronavirus in the UK across a 24-hour period.

It was the highest number reported on a single day since May 22.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was “concerned” about the rise in cases, but that it “reinforces the point that people must follow the social distancing rules”.