Downing Street has said that the NHS Nightingale hospital in London is set to go “on standby” as a result of no new COVID-19 patient admissions being expected
The temporary hospital was opened on the 3rd April at London’s ExCel exhibition centre and was designed to be able to hold 4,000 patients.
The London hospital is 87,328 square metres of double exhibition halls and was fitted with the framework for around 80 different wards, each holding 42 beds.
The entirety of the hospital currently contains 500 beds, fully-equipped with oxygen and ventilators; there is also space to fit another 3,500 beds.
If the hospital did ever manage to reach capacity, it would have been one of the largest hospitals in the world.
Nightingale went from essentially an empty warehouse, to a fully functional emergency hospital in less than a two weeks which was made possible to the use of military expertise, as the armed forces played a key part in the planning of the facility.
The number of people with being treated for COVID-19 in London hospitals has now reduced by over 50% over the past month, to about 2,000 cases of infection within hospitals.
The prime minister’s spokesperson said: “It’s not likely that in the coming days we will need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale while coronavirus in the capital remains under control.”
“That’s obviously a very positive thing and we remain grateful to everybody in London for following the government’s advice in helping to protect the NHS.”
“What the Nightingale will be is effectively placed on standby so it would be ready to receive patients should that be required, but we are not anticipating that will be the case.”
The Downing street spokesperson said that the Nightingale hospitals were “absolutely not” a waste of resources and money, and said the fact that they had not been largely used, was “something positive” and showed the NHS were not entirely overwhelmed.
The Nightingale’s chief executive, Professor Charles Knight, has said to staff that the hospital will “stand ready” if cases of the coronavirus rise again.
“As a result, after the last of this our first group of patients leaves, the hospital will be placed on standby, ready to resume operations as and when needed in the weeks and potentially months to come,” he said.
The number of coronavirus patients who have been admitted to the multiple Nightingale hospitals around the country is unclear, but it would appear that demand for these temporary hospitals is a lot lower than worst-case scenarios predicted.
The PM’s spokesperson said: “Manchester has taken some patients already; Birmingham, Harrogate and Bristol are ready to take patients if needed.
“The other two are Sunderland and Exeter and they are due to open shortly.”
Medical director of NHS England, Professor Stephen Powis, has suggested that the Nightingale hospitals throughout the UK would need to remain, in order to act as a “insurance policy for COVID patients”.
The NHS is now moving into its second phase of efforts to mitigate anymore loss of life or infection caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.