Work is being carried out to convert the site - which was built for the motor industry, close to the Nissan plant on Wearside - into the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East, which will take coronavirus patients if units in the region cannot cope with demand.
It will be located at the new Innovation Centre, which will eventually be home to the Centre of Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (CeSAM), which is part of the new International Automotive Manufacturing Park (IAMP).
The site, owned by Sunderland City Council, is close to the A19 and will be divided into 16 wards.
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The hospital will include the potential to care for 460 patients, and will have the capacity to support patients who require ventilation should that be required. All of the patients treated in this new, temporary hospital will have already tested positive for Coronavirus and this new facility is intended to supplement bed capacity elsewhere in the region.
It is expected to be operational towards the end of April or early May
Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, said: “The announcement that a temporary hospital will be developed at IAMP truly brings home the scale of the coronavirus. It is a sobering thought that this facility will be needed and shows just how seriously individuals and businesses must take this issue.
“This dedicated coronavirus facility will help save lives and will take some of the pressure off local hospitals, such as Sunderland Royal, South Tyneside District Hospital, the QE in Gateshead and Newcastle hospitals, and ensure that local people are cared for locally.
“My thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones, as well as other individuals who have contracted the virus. I pay tribute to all those working in the NHS who are treating and caring for those with coronavirus. We all have a duty to help prevent the spread of the virus and that is why I urge everyone to stay at home if they are able to.”
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be the lead organisation for this project.
Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of Newcastle Hospitals said: “Work is well underway on equipping the building and we anticipate being ready to begin treating patients in a matter of weeks
“It is an important part of a comprehensive range of measures being put in place to respond to the pandemic in the NHS and social care.
“Already we have created more critical care capacity in existing facilities, provided many more outpatient consultations over phone or online and there has been an important local effort to support vulnerable people to be able to isolate themselves safely.
“This new hospital represents a truly remarkable and inspiring collaborative effort. None of us have ever faced a challenge this great or this complex.
“It is testing our NHS like never before but I sincerely hope and believe that when this pandemic is over, we will all look back on what we have achieved with great pride.”