£66m Nightingale Hospital to close without ever seeing a patient

The region's £66 million Nightingale hospital is set to close without having ever seen a single patient.

The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital at the NEC is set to close down
The temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital at the NEC is set to close down

The temporary site was set up in April last year at Birmingham's NEC to cater for Covid patients should West Midlands hospitals become overrun.

It has never been used and is set to be decommissioned in the coming weeks, along with other Nightingale sites in Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate.

NHS chiefs say the sites were being stood down as hospitals were no longer at risk of being overwhelmed.

The Birmingham site, which was scaled down in the summer, was the most expensive of the country's seven Nightingale hospitals to set up, costing £66.4m.

It was opened by Prince William at the start of April last year, the height of the first wave of the pandemic, providing around 2,000 emergency beds.

At the time health bosses across the region predicted that hospitals would hit capacity within weeks but the fears proved to be unfounded.

An NHS spokesperson said: “Since the very early days of the pandemic the Nightingale hospitals have been on hand as the ultimate insurance policy in case existing hospital capacity was overwhelmed.

"But, as we have learned more about coronavirus, and how to successfully treat Covid, existing hospitals have adapted to significantly surge critical care capacity and even in the winter wave – which saw more than 100,000 patients with the virus admitted in a single month – there were beds available across the country.

“Thank you to the many NHS staff and partners who worked so hard to set the Nightingales up so swiftly and of course the public who followed the guidance on controlling the spread of the virus and helped to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed.”

According to the HSJ, the London and Sunderland Nightingales are set to be used as vaccination centres, while Exeter's will be used for diagnostics.

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