NHS Nightingale sent Covid patients from ‘very busy’ hospital as lockdown end looms

Exeter’s NHS Nightingale Hospital has taken its first Covid patients (Image: Getty Images)

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The NHS Nightingale Hospital in Exeter will receive its first coronavirus patients on Thursday, officials have confirmed.

The 116-bed hospital built on the site of a former retail unit will treat people with Covid-19, taking patients transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust as it is "very busy".

A Nightingale Hospital Exeter spokeswoman said: "The Nightingale Exeter will accept patients tomorrow who will be transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), which is very busy.

"We would ask that the public continue to observe the Government's advice on observing the lockdown and social distancing so that we can keep patients safe."

(Image: D C Media)

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Responding to the news, Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw tweeted: "Very good news that the Exeter Nightingale hospital is finally opening for patients tomorrow to take pressure off the RD&E hospitals and other local NHS services to cope with unprecedented Covid-19 UK pressures."

In his response on Twitter, the Labour MP noted he had recently raised the issue with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Speaking virtually in the Commons on November 10, Mr Bradshaw told the Health Secretary his local NHS wanted to use the hospital, but did not then have the staff to do so.

He asked: "What exactly is the purpose of the Nightingale hospitals when there are not the doctors and nurses to staff them?"

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended nursing levels at NHS Nightingales

Mr Hancock replied there had been an increase of more than 13,000 nurses in the past year, as well as returning members of NHS staff.

He added: "The Nightingale hospitals are incredibly important as additional surge capacity, but part of that surge involves the staff in the NHS having themselves each to look after a higher proportion of patients.

"That surge is not something we want to put in place unless we have to, so having the Nightingales there is important."

Government figures show the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in the South West has steadily risen over the previous weeks.

The data shows 34 patients were reported as being in hospital on October 1, jumping to 437 on November 1.

Figures for November 24 list 968 confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospital, and 70 patients reported on the same day were in mechanical ventilation beds.

Building work began on the Exeter site in May and was finished in July.

During the summer, the hospital was used for diagnostic tests, including around 200 CT scans and 100 ultrasounds.

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