Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Two new Nightingale hospitals to be open within weeks
10 April 2020, 20:41
The NHS will have around 700 extra beds to use in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak after it was announced two more Nightingale hospitals will be opened within weeks.
A 460-bed unit will open on Wearside, close to the Nissan car plant, serving the North East of England, and a smaller unit will be set up in Exeter for the South West.
They will bring the total of NHS Nightingale hospitals to seven, adding to the units in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: "These hospitals will provide backup and support for NHS hospitals across the South West and the North East, should it be needed.
"Our local health service staff have rightly recommended we go ahead with these additional facilities.
"But our ambition as a country has to be to continue to stay at home to cut infections and save lives - so that the need to actually use these Nightingale hospitals is as limited as possible."
The Wearside Nightingale is being developed in the existing Innovation Centre - a unit that is bigger than a football pitch that was built to support the motor industry.
The Exeter site is being kitted out at the Westpoint Centre, with both developments being supported by the Army.
All Nightingales will draw on existing NHS staff, as well as the thousands of returning staff and training clinicians.
Speaking about the Nightingale unit for the North East, Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals which is leading the project, said: "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."