Here's what's happening to the UK's temporary nightingale hospitals as Covid cases surge

Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 1:06 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 1:07 pm

Cases of coronavirus are rising across the UK putting an enormous strain on hospitals across the country.

Since the beginning of the pandemic calls have been made to protect the NHS and ensure that hospitals aren’t put under too much strain when cases soar.

The construction of the Nightingales, temporary hospitals capable of receiving covid patients, has been a key part of the government’s strategy to ease pressure on the NHS.

Largely unused during the first coronavirus pandemic wave, NHS England are now seeking to reassure that the Nightingales will continue to serve as a safety net should cases continue to rise.

Are the Nightingale hospitals still open? 

Yes.

NHS England has insisted that the hospitals remain on standby for use, despite the removal of some equipment from the site of the London hospital.

NHS England sent a letter to trusts on December 23 asking them to plan for the use of additional facilities such as the seven Nightingale hospitals, amid rising numbers of patients with the virus.

It is understood some equipment which was initially at the ExCel centre site in the capital when it opened in April is no longer there.

Beds and ventilators have been removed from the London site, the Daily Telegraph reported.

What is the status of the Nightingale hospital in Harrogate? 

A spokesperson for the NHS in the North East and Yorkshire said: “The Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate has been running a clinical imaging service since June with more than 3,000 patients receiving a diagnostic test or CT scan, and can take patients if required.”

Is there enough staff to man the Nightingale hospitals? 

Dr Nick Scriven, immediate past president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “It is not ‘just the case’ of using the Nightingale hospital as there are simply no staff for them to run as they were originally intended (mini intensive care units).

“They could play a role perhaps if used as rehabilitation units for those recovering but, again, where do we find the specialist staff – the NHS simply does not have the capacity to spare anyone.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the Nightingale hospitals had been opened “at great expense and fanfare”.

The Labour MP tweeted: “But the reality is years of Tory failures to invest in training and staffing has left NHS short of staff needed.”