In current months, the Authorities has been compelled to defend itself over the Nightingale hospitals, the medical websites it arrange within the spring to help the NHS via the Coronavirus disaster, which have been noticeably empty, and generally deactivated, throughout the pandemic.
Whereas their vacancy needs to be a very good factor, many have puzzled – extra so now that the NHS is below enormous pressure and with the emergence of the brand new Coronavirus variant – why this further help has not been used a lot, if in any respect.
It’s estimated that the Authorities spent £200 million in total on seven sites in England, however probably the most publicised Nightingale hospital (in London’s ExCel) closed a month after treating 57 patients. Inevitably there have been questions on whether or not this was a very good use of assets.
When Matt Hancock was grilled on this matter in December final 12 months he stated that these hospitals had been by no means supposed as the primary port of name, and had been in reality “there in case they’re needed.” Stephen Powis, NHS England Medical Director, has echoed this sentiment, calling them “our insurance policy, there as our last resort.”
So it’s troubling that right now the London Nightingale field hospital has been opened up again, albeit as a “rehab unit” to deal with these recovering from Covid and different circumstances.
The Nightingale in Exeter has been off “standby” mode since November, when it began taking sufferers from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Basis Belief.
Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate have additionally been used for non-Covid sufferers.
And Northern Ireland is seeing a similar rise in demand, the place the Nightingale Hospital in Belfast is being ready to be used as intensive care sufferers improve.
That being stated, throughout all Nightingale hospitals there is no such thing as a constant snapshot of how they’ve been used, as a lot is set by the character of the virus and the way it spreads throughout the nation.
On the different finish of the spectrum is Sunderland’s Nightingale Hospital, a 460-bed facility, which has not treated a single patient and does not expect to as of yet.
It’s the same story in Wales, the place the well being authorities determined to dismantle its 2,000-bed field hospital which was created originally of the pandemic, as an alternative shifting to smaller websites, that are designed to help present hospitals.
In England, nonetheless, the indicators are there that this infrastructure shall be extra relied upon, significantly given the dire warnings from Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, concerning the challenges over the approaching weeks because the NHS battles a way more transmittable model of the virus.
One of many greatest challenges forward shall be whether or not the Nightingales have sufficient employees to help the upscaled infrastructure. NHS professionals have complained that there merely aren’t sufficient nurses and docs for them. Hancock has beforehand stated the Authorities “constructed extra capability inside the NHS” to deal with rising instances, however how this interprets to reliance on the Nightingale hospitals stays to be seen. Tragically, the following few weeks are more likely to be their essential take a look at.