NHS Nightingale Hospitals
As the COVID-19 epidemic was spreading in England, the UK government and NHS England were planning temporary large-scale critical care hospitals to provide cover for the projected increase in patients likely to need this type of facility  and reflects a wide scale reorganisation of NHS services to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic  There are also similar hospitals being set up in other countries of the UK as part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, namely Dragon's Heart Hospital in Cardiff, NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow, and the extension to Belfast City Hospital.
On 27 March, chief executive of NHS England Sir Simon Stevens announced that a temporary 5,000-bed facility at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre would open in mid-April. The hospital became operational on 10 April, with 500 beds, and was officially opened as NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham by Prince William, using a video link, on 16 April. The hospital was designed as a 'step down facility', for patients recovering from COVID-19 or those not suitable for ventilation.
On 5 May, it was announced that the hospital would be placed on standby, having admitted no patients.
On 3 April, NHS England announced that a hospital for the Bristol area was to be built in University of the West of England (UWE). The hospital is stated to have a planned capacity of up to 300 beds and is located in the Exhibition and Conference Centre on UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus. Spare student accommodation is also to be made available for doctors and nurses at the Frenchay campus. The hospital will have space to provide up to 1,000 beds, if necessary.
This hospital was officially opened on 27 April 2020, in a virtual ceremony, by Matt Hancock (health secretary), Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and the chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens. It has the capacity to care for 60 patients, with the ability to scale up to 300 if required.
On 10 April, it was announced that a temporary hospital is to be provided in Exeter. The hospital, was originally expected to be built in Westpoint Arena near Clyst St Mary, and provide 200 beds, is due to be ready for use in early May. With the number of Covid-19 cases in the catchment area being lower than originally expected, the decision was taken to switch its location to the smaller site of a former retail outlet in Sowton for the hospital.
On 3 April, a hospital for Harrogate, Yorkshire was announced by NHS England, with a 500-bed capacity, in the Harrogate Convention Centre. Tom Moore, a 99-year-old army veteran who had raised more £27M to support health service workers, officially opened the hospital on 21 April 2020.
On 24 March 2020, the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, who is responsible for the NHS in England, announced that ExCeL London would be the first field hospital. It was planned to initially have 500 beds, with the capacity for 4,000-5,000 beds across its two wards if necessary later.
On the 4th May 2020, it was announced that the hospital would be placed on standby, and would not admit any new patients.
On 10 April, it was announced that a 460-bed facility would be built in Washington, Tyne and Wear. The hospital, at the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing, was expected to be ready for use within two weeks.
The hospital was officially opened on 5 May 2020, in a virtual ceremony, by Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Health). The opening ceremony also featured television celebrities Ant and Dec, football pundit Alan Shearer and cricketer Ben Stokes.
Towards the end of March, nursing leaders expressed concern about where the extra workers to staff the new hospitals would be found. On 30 March, the government issued a call for airline cabin crew to volunteer to be cross-trained as specialist health assistants.
The Tesco supermarket chain has plans to open pop-up branches of its convenience stores in the NHS Nightingale hospitals in order to provide convenient shopping facilities for hospital staff. It opened the first one in Birmingham Nightingale on 13 April. Discussions are ongoing to open shops in the London, Harrogate and Manchester Nightingales too.
|Hospital||Site location||Current capacity (potential)||Announced||Officially opened|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital London||ExCeL London||500 (4,000-5,000)||24 March 2020||3 April 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham||National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham||496 (5,000)||27 March 2020||16 April 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital North West||Manchester Central Convention Complex||(750)||27 March 2020||17 April 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber||Harrogate Convention Centre||(500)||3 April 2020||21 April 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital Bristol||University of the West of England, Bristol||(300 beds, 1,000 people)||3 April 2020||27 April 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital North East||Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing, Washington||(460 beds)||10 April 2020||5 May 2020|
|NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter||Sowton, Exeter||10 April 2020|
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- "A huge new hospital in Manchester city centre is ready to take its first patients - and all this took just two weeks". Manchester Evening News. 13 April 2020.
- @MichaelMcCourt1 (13 April 2020). "1st tweet as CEO NHS Nightingale North West. Proud & thankful to be able to say we take our first patients today. In 14 days huge NHS, Army & NHS partner effort this hospital is open. A lot of attention on us but don't want to forget we are here to support an already busy NW NHS" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Rodger, James (20 April 2020). "Tesco opens 24-hour store at Birmingham's new NHS Nightingale Hospital". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
- Jahshan, Elias (7 April 2020). "Tesco eyes pop-up stores at NHS Nightingale sites". Retail Gazette.