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Nightingale hospital lies empty and is still only 'on standby'

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 20/12/2020 Faith Ridler For Mailonline
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Nightingale hospitals built during the first Covid-19 lockdown still remain 'on standby' despite parts of England being plunged under draconian Tier 4 measures.

The ExCeL London temporary hospital, which was the first site opened by NHS England amid the crisis, is lying in wait alongside medical centres in Birmingham and Sunderland, the Sun on Sunday reported.

The site in Manchester is open for 'non-Covid care', NHS England said, while Exeter and Harrogate are open as 'specialist diagnostics ­centres' and Bristol for 'local NHS services.'

It has been suggested the hospitals are largely deserted, despite Boris Johnson's dramatic decision to plunge a third of those in England under tough Tier 4 measures from Sunday. 

a sign in front of ExCeL London: The ExCeL London (pictured) temporary hospital, which was the first site built by NHS England amid the crisis, is 'on standby' alongside medical centres in Birmingham and Sunderland © Provided by Daily Mail The ExCeL London (pictured) temporary hospital, which was the first site built by NHS England amid the crisis, is 'on standby' alongside medical centres in Birmingham and Sunderland a group of people in a room: Pictured: Beds inside the NHS Nightingale hospital in east London after it opened in spring © Provided by Daily Mail Pictured: Beds inside the NHS Nightingale hospital in east London after it opened in spring

The new restrictions will hit those in London and the South East just days before the Prime Minister's five-day 'Christmas bubble' easing was set to begin on December 23.

In the highest tier, Britons have been advised to not mix with anyone outside their own household over the holidays - with the 'bubble' window cut to one day for the rest of England. 

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: 'We’re heading into the next NHS coronavirus crisis with hospital wards struggling without enough doctors, nurses and health care staff.

'It’s all very well Ministers telling us they have Nightingales but if they can’t sufficiently staff existing wards how can they guarantee enough doctors and nurses at the Nightingales?

'Sadly our health and care service is trying to cope on the back of years of Tory cutbacks and understaffing.'

a group of people standing in front of a building: The site in Manchester (pictured) is open for 'non-Covid care', NHS England said, while Exeter and Harrogate are open as 'specialist diagnostics ­centres' and Bristol for 'local NHS services'

The site in Manchester (pictured) is open for 'non-Covid care', NHS England said, while Exeter and Harrogate are open as 'specialist diagnostics ­centres' and Bristol for 'local NHS services'
© Provided by Daily Mail

NHS services are reportedly battling a shortage of 87,000 employees as the UK continues through a tough winter in the pandemic.

The Nightingale hospital in east London has the capacity for 4,000 beds, with the site in Manchester capable of catering for up to 750 patients.

It was reported last month that fewer than 30 people were being treated across the UK's seven Nightingale Hospitals in mid-November.

It comes as coronavirus cases were up 25 per cent on last Saturday, with 27,052 infections reported across Britain.   

The latest figures show 534 people died in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus - 14 more than last Saturday and 45 more than Friday.

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The total number of lab-confirmed cases has now surpassed two million since the outbreak took off in March, according to the Government's dashboard. 

In the first wave of the pandemic, seven Nightingale hospitals were built at a cost of £220million.

The NHS was, however, largely able to cope so only two were used, with around 200 people treated.

There has been speculation that the Nightingales could be used as centres to provide vaccinations.

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