• Patients will not be sent to Nightingale facility in Yorkshire for time being
  • Region’s primary hospitals continue to cope with surge in covid-19 patients

Patients will not be sent to the new Nightingale facility in Yorkshire for the time being, as the region’s existing hospitals continue to manage the surge in coronavirus cases.

The temporary hospital in Harrogate was officially opened today, with TV crews and local media invited to the site.

HSJ understands some staff had been lined up to start working at the hospital this week, but were told last week they were not needed as patients were not going to be referred there in the short term.

NHS England said the conference centre facility would be ready to receive patients “whenever the need arises”. It has capacity for 500 beds.

The concept of the temporary Nightingale hospitals was conceived when there were fears covid-19 cases would overwhelm NHS intensive care units. But so far, hospitals around the country appear to have been able to manage the surge in patients, without significant numbers having to be treated in the overflow facilities.

A senior NHS leader in West Yorkshire told HSJ the region “is managing with the current intensive care capacity at the moment”.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “Staff training is taking place so that we are ready to receive patients whenever the need arises.

“Until that time, and as was always planned to be the case, staff will remain with their current employers, looking after the patients who currently need them.”

As reported by HSJ at the weekend, the original Nightingale hospital in east London remains largely empty. However, the capital’s NHS leaders believe it will be vital in helping the primary hospitals restore services, such as elective surgery, and cope with rising covid-19 demand as social distancing measures are relaxed.


*This story was amended at 3.22pm on April 22 to make clear that the facility had never been envisaged as a step-down facility