By Tara Rippin •
Published: 09 Mar 2021 • 10:55
No longer needed – Nightingale hospitals to be ‘stood down’ after £500m cost to taxpayers.
FOUR of England’s emergency field hospitals are to close for good later this month after ‘barely being used’ and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.
While the hospitals in Birmingham, Bristol, Harrogate and Manchester will all close permanently within a matter of weeks, two sites in London and Sunderland will remain open and are being used as mass vaccination centres.
Meanwhile, a 116-bed hospital in Exeter will be used for diagnostic tests and could be converted to help hospitals carry out more routine care to help cut backlogs.
The field hospitals were opened at the beginning of the Covid pandemic last year to deal with a predicted surge in patients.
But they will be “stood down” from April 1 after the chancellor failed to make more money available for them in the budget from next month.
A report in the Health Service Journal states that the hospitals were hardly used and that just 54 patients were treated at London’s Nightingale hospital at the ExCel Conference centre in east London during the peak of the first wave.
It has since opened as a non-Covid rehabilitation facility with 64 beds.
An NHS spokesperson said that since the very early days of the pandemic the Nightingale hospitals have “been on hand as the ultimate insurance policy in case existing hospital capacity was overwhelmed”.
But they added that as more was learned about the virus, and how to successfully treat Covid, “existing hospitals have adapted to significantly surge critical care capacity and even in the winter wave – which saw more than 100,000 patients with the virus admitted in a single month – there were beds available across the country”.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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