More than 150 NHS staff who stepped forward to help during the coronavirus crisis in Bolton have been hailed as 'heroes'.

New figures show that since the start of the pandemic, 153 workers helped to bolster resources at Royal Bolton Hospital.

They include people who returned to work after retirement, and new nurses hired to help during the town's time of need.

Fiona Noden, chief executive at Royal Bolton Hospital, said: “It’s been almost overwhelming how people have stepped up during the crisis to support the NHS and our patients."

By April, 6,318 members of staff were employed by the borough’s hospital, an increase of 214 from the same time last year, and 153 from February this year.

The chief executive added: “Several members of staff from the organisation either delayed their retirement or came back to help once they’d left.

“Other staff were redeployed into other teams to support their colleagues and put their skills to use in busier areas.

“We continue to be so thankful to all of our staff who are going above and beyond every day to care for the people of Bolton.”

The biggest increase in workers was those in clinical support roles, whose numbers swelled from 2,018 to 2,136 in April - an increase of 118.

114 of these new recruits were hired specifically as support for doctors, nurses and midwives.

David Greenhalgh, leader of Bolton Council, thanked the “heroes” that have given their all for the town, saying: “What a brilliant response by our amazing NHS staff to look after the people of Bolton. The true heroes of our time really are those working on the front line of our NHS, and I can’t express my gratitude enough to all those who work in it.

“We are indebted to them as well our carers, our essential workers and our voluntary organisations who worked throughout lockdown who helped those most vulnerable and at risk.”

Yasmin Qureshi, MP for Bolton South East, also hailed the work of everyone at the hospital during this difficult time.

She said: “Covid-19 has been a once in a generation challenge and our NHS staff have been on the frontline throughout. It is great to see that so many stepped up to help the wider community. I am in awe of their commitment and dedication.”

Across England, the NHS figures show there were 12,839 extra members of NHS staff in April. The Royal College of Nursing said student and recently returned nurses had ‘stepped up to make an invaluable contribution’.