NHS Nightingale London to be placed on 'standby' as capital passes peak

4 May 2020, 12:47

By Asher McShane

London’s NHS nightingale hospital is going to be placed on ‘standby’ after the number of coronavirus patients needing intensive care beds dropped in the capital.

The action will be taken within days, with staff being told of the development today. There was a suggestion the hospital could close its doors on May 15.

Recent figures show more people are in hospital with coronavirus in the north-west of England than in London.

There are 2,033 people in London hospitals, compared to 2,191 in the north-west. The peak in the north-west was on 13 April, compared to 8 April in the capital.

The Nightingale hospital opened in London on April 8 with a vision to have as many as 4,000 extra beds adding to the capital’s intensive care capacity.

The Nightingale hospital London is being wound down
The Nightingale hospital London is being wound down. Picture: PA

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It had been predicted in the early stages of the pandemic that London would need a total of 7,500 intensive care beds to treat coronavirus patients.

The hospital opened on April 3 and received its first patient on April 7. Only a few dozen patients are understood to have been treated there on ventilators.

NHS England said the facility could be restarted at short notice in the event of a second wave of coronavirus infections in the capital.

Professor Charles Knight, the CEO of the Nightingale Hospital London said in a statement: “Thanks to the determination of Londoners following expert advice to stay at home and save lives, we haven’t had to expand Nightingale’s capacity.

“Our appreciation to all who have been involved in making the Nightingale a key part of the NHS’ whole London COVID-19 response.

“This is a significant point in how the NHS is managing this pandemic. It does not mean our role in London’s response to the virus is over.”

Professor Stephen Powis, the medical director of the NHS, said yesterday that the NHS Nightingale hospitals were “100 per cent” not built in error.

He said: "It would have been foolish to have not planned for extra capacity within the NHS.

"The fact that we have not needed to use all that capacity is actually good news, because it means that the public have complied with the social distancing measures, they've started to flatten that curve and we've seen fewer admissions and ultimately fewer deaths you might have seen if this virus had just been left to spread unchecked."

He continued: "I think you would be a hundred, a thousand times more critical if the NHS had not put in that extra capacity and had become overwhelmed."