Health

Nightingale Hospital in London placed on standby

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS staff stand on marks on the ground, put in place to ensure social distancing guidelines are adhered to, at the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Officials, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, were at the opening of the hospital on 3 April

The Nightingale Hospital in London is expected to be placed on standby in the coming days, and will no longer be admitting patients.

The hospital, which opened on 3 April with space for 4,000 beds to treat Covid-19 patients, could resume operations again if needed.

Fewer than 20 patients are being treated there at present, the BBC understands.

Staff will be redeployed, but some equipment will stay at the hospital.

In a briefing to staff, Charles Knight, CEO of the Nightingale London, said most of the hospital's capacity had not been used.

"Thanks to the determination and sacrifice of Londoners in following the expert advice to stay home and save lives, we have not had to expand the Nightingale's capacity beyond the first ward."

He added: "It is likely that in the coming days we will not need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale, while coronavirus in the capital remains under control."

The hospital, which was formerly a large exhibition space in London's Docklands, was planned as part of the UK's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, it was revealed to have treated 51 patients in its first three weeks.

A spokesperson for the hospital previously said it would be a "mark of success" if the hospital did not operate at full capacity.

However Mr Knight said it would stand ready to be used again "as and when needed in the weeks and potentially months to come".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The hospital was built in nine days, with the help of up to 200 soldiers a day

The Prime Minister said last week that the UK was "past the peak" of the coronavirus outbreak.

Prof Stephen Powis, medical director of NHS England, indicated that the Nightingale hospitals would need to be kept as an "insurance policy for Covid patients".

The NHS is now moving into the second phase of its response to the global pandemic.

What's in the Nightingale in London?

The 87,328 square metres of double exhibition halls were fitted out with the framework for about 80 wards, each with 42 beds.

Some 500 fully-equipped beds, with oxygen and ventilators, were put in place with space for another 3,500.

If it did reach capacity, it would have been one of the largest hospitals in the world.

Where are the other Nightingale hospitals?

Ten Nightingale hospitals across the UK were planned to care for Covid-19 patients.

Conference centres in Birmingham, Manchester and Harrogate have been transformed into temporary hospitals. A hospital has also been opened in Bristol.

Similar facilities have been set up in Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast.

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