A Workington engineering firm has offered to donate 500 face masks and protective clothing to frontline health workers battling Covid-19.

TSP Engineering said it had made the difficult decision to scale back its operations due to the pandemic, but as a result could offer the personal protective equipment to health chiefs.

Management of TSP Engineering, based at Derwent Howe, have been in touch with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

John Coughlan, TSP's chief executive, said: "We are proud of our place in the community and we have this personal protection equipment on site.

"Reports keep saying that workers in hospitals across the country are struggling to get hold of equipment, so it seemed obvious to us to make the offer to our local hospital trust, in case they needed it."

TSP Engineering is a key supplier to sectors including nuclear, defence, oil and gas, steelmaking and construction.

Earlier this month, it won a £1 million contract to supply electrical instrumentation for a major research facility in Sweden.

Management at the firm and union representatives have been having daily briefings about coronavirus since the pandemic was announced.

They decided today to scale down the plant's manufacturing until further notice.

Mr Coughlan added: “The management team and union are working closely together to ensure the safety of all employees while at the same time taking consideration for customers orders and requirements.

"We have taken the decision today to scale down operations until further notice in line with the Government's advice.

"Where possible and practical, we have a number of employees working from home using IT and telecommunications technology to communicate and be available for customers and project partners.

"Scaling down this operations means we can offer the masks and paper overalls to frontline health workers."

TSP Engineering is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese steelmaker Jingye, which bought the firm as part of an £50 million deal to take on British Steel, TSP's former owner.

TSP is run as a completely separate company.