NHS Nightingale Hospital North East near Nissan to remain on standby - and 'could still be used'

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The North East Nightingale Hospital will remain on standby to support the NHS through the coronavirus pandemic, health chiefs have said.

The 460-bed hospital, near Nissan’s Sunderland plant, will only start taking patients if the region’s hospitals are unable to cope with Covid-19 cases.

The site is based at the Centre of Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing, which was converted into a health facility with support from Sunderland City Council.

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The NHS Nightingale Hospital North EastThe NHS Nightingale Hospital North East
The NHS Nightingale Hospital North East

Since the hospital’s launch in May, politicians and health leaders have said it remains as an ‘insurance policy’ for the region.

While long-term plans for the facility are uncertain, health chiefs have stressed that the use of the facility is ‘still in the picture’.

“No decision has been made yet in terms of Nightingale,” Director of Planning and Business Development at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Peter Sutton, said.

“It is very much still there in terms of if we need it as a system and for the wider North East, it’s still there as a facility to be used.

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“The longer-term use of the Nightingale, clearly you’re looking ahead for future years, that would have to be discussed and agreed.

“It’s certainly still very much there in the picture as a facility that could be used.”

Mr Sutton was speaking at Sunderland City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday July 1, which was held remotely and broadcast live on YouTube.

The comments came following a question from Coun Ronny Davison about the future of the hospital – and whether it would ‘stay until needed or go.’

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It took more than 300 people working 80,000 construction hours to create the North East Nightingale Hospital – one of several across the country.

In May, Sunderland City Council leader Graeme Miller said the centre would stay in place “for as long as the NHS feels it needs it.”

This week, it was reported that Nightingale hospitals across England could be repurposed as cancer testing centres to deal with a growing backlog of suspected cases.

The comments came from Chief Executive of NHS England, Sir SImon Stevens, during a Commons Health and Social Care committee.

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The conversion of the Exeter Nightingale site is expected to take place in July.

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