Sunderland 'proud' to help NHS coronavirus battle with emergency Nightingale Hospital

Sunderland’s council leader says the city is “proud” to support the NHS’s battle against coronavirus following the announcement that a temporary Nightingale hospital is poised to open here.

The Innovation Centre, part of the Interational Advance Manufacturing Park (IAMP), off the A19 at Washington, is preparing to become a 460-bed hospital if the region’s existing health facility struggle with numbers of coronavirus victims.

The building – completed just days ago to support the area's automotive industry – is expected to be ready to receive patients within the next fortnight if needed.

Official figures released on April showed that 375 people had died in the North-East from the virus with 105 of the fatalities taking place within Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Trust hospitals.

Inside the Innovation Centre.

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Speaking after official confirmation was announced on Good Friday, Councillor Graeme Miller, the leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Sunderland is proud to have been able to support our friends and colleagues in the

NHS to ensure that the North East’s needs are met, as the nation steps up its efforts to tackle Covid-19.

“Building NHS capacity quickly is absolutely paramount in the battle against Coronavirus, and we are glad to have been able to lend our support in preparing our Innovation Centre to enable this world-class facility to be

created.

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The Innovation Centre, part of the IAMP, off the A19 at Washington, may soon become a Nightingale hospital to help the battle against coronavirus.

“It has been incredible to see the collaboration and team-work that has gone into turning this building around at such rapid pace, and the determination and commitment of every single person involved in creating this Nightingale Hospital is to be applauded.”

The hospital will be operated by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and will treat patients from across the North East.

The Innovation Centre stands at the heart of the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) and was built to drive the ongoing development of the region’s advanced manufacturing sector.

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It will eventually provide a home both to one of the national Driving Electric Revolution (DER) centres, through the national and regional consortium led by Newcastle University, and to the Centre of Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CeSAM), in partnership with the University of Sunderland.

However, as it is unoccupied, the building was handpicked by NHS as being suitable for conversion to one of a network of Nightingale Hospitals across the UK.

Coun Miller added: “This building will be central to the region’s economic revival when we emerge from this crisis.

“So it is fitting that we open it to support the national effort and provide valuable additional capacity to the NHS, to allow them to care for more people as pressures on our health and social care system continue to increase.

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“We hope that the facility will not be needed – and that the region’s hospitals are able to meet demand, following the social distancing measures put in place last month, but it is reassuring that it is there to support and relieve the region’s existing NHS facilities in the event that is needed.”

He also confirmed that original plans for the Innovation Centre will proceed once any use as a temporary hospital has concluded.

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