News that the Sunderland site, alongside its sister temporary hospitals in Manchester and Harrogate, had been asked to prepare to mobilise over the “next few weeks” broke yesterday, Monday, October 12.
It came in a briefing from Steve Powis, the medical director of NHS England, who noted a rise in infection rates across the North, stating the sites would soon need to be ready to accept patients if necessary.
He outlined what support they will provide and when they are needed will be the decision of local clinicians as he spoke ahead of a briefing by Boris Johnson, where the Prime Minister set out the new three-tier system.
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Details about how the sites will be staffed are yet to be revealed.
The Wearside centre is based in the Sunderland International Innovation Centre on the site of the Internation Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) near Washington.
The project is being led by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and can provide up to 460 ventilated beds for Covid-19 patients.
It was officially launched in May by the Countess of Wessex and television presenters Ant and Dec a month after it first emerged the building would be transformed into the facility.
A spokesperson for the trust today said: “In the North East, we are prepared for an increase in Covid cases and are concerned about rising infection rates and the impact this could have on the NHS.
"Currently, the numbers of patients are well below what we experienced at the height of wave one, plus we now have additional treatments to offer patients.
“While we have been asked to prepare for the next phase, we still hope that we won’t have to use any beds at all in the Nightingale in the North East.
"If we do, it will be based on local clinical advice and expertise, in each patient’s best interests.
“Covid-19 remains a serious illness, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their bit to protect each other. Remembering to follow the rules – washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and making space – continues to be vitally important to save lives.”