Sunderland's North East Nightingale Hospital 'ready to take coronavirus patients' as hospital admission in North surge past first wave peak
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Number Ten confirmed today that the hospital, near the city's Nissan car plant, and its sister hospital in Harrogate were ‘ready to take patients if necessary’ while the Manchester hospital was already operational.
Another four Nightingales are on standby, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said, while the NHS is considering using the hospitals as mass vaccination centres.
“The NHS is also considering using the sites as mass vaccination centres if and when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available,” the spokesman told a Westminster briefing.
The 460-bed hospital officially opened on May 5, intended as an overflow facility in the event that the number of patients with Covid-19 became too high for the region’s hospitals to treat.
Health chiefs have always referred to the development as an ‘insurance policy’ and have insisted that ideally, it will never see a patient admitted.
More than five months since it opened, the facility is yet to welcome a single patient because the region’s hospitals have so far been able to cope with the pandemic.
But with cases continuing to rise, health chiefs have said it is ready to take patients.
It has already been confirmed that the Nightingale unit will remain open at least until the end of March 2021 in case it is required to provide support in the event of another surge in cases.
A spokesman for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which operates the facility, said in August: “The Nightingale North East is part of a nationwide effort being coordinated by NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"While we have not yet had to use this facility, it will remain available for as long as it is required to support all of the main hospitals in our region in the event of another surge of Covid-19 cases.
"The hospital is designed to provide care for patients who have already been intubated and ventilated and require further intensive care treatment for Covid-19.”