North Yorkshire’s Nightingale Hospital ready if needed, NHS insists

A security guard outside the Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate. Photo: Glen Minikin.

The NHS has insisted Harrogate’s Nightingale hospital is ready to be stepped up again – despite concerns over how it would be staffed.

In the face of rising coronavirus cases and mounting pressure on hospitals, NHS England told trusts before Christmas to start preparing to use the country’s seven Nightingale sites.

The facilities were set up during the spring wave of Covid-19 to create extra capacity to treat virus patients, however, bosses have failed to explain where the staff needed would come from.

It comes as the number of coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals has hit a record high – prompting many to start wondering why the Nightingales have not been opened.

A spokesperson for NHS North East and Yorkshire said in a short statement that the 500-bed Nightingale at Harrogate Convention Centre “can take patients if required,” but did not comment on the issue of staffing.

Victoria Eaton, the director of public health at Leeds City Council, previously described the potential of getting sufficient staff numbers as “incredibly challenging”.

Conservative MP John Redwood has also called on the government to explain why the Nightingales are not in use as health services struggle to keep up with the rising demand.

The Nightingale hospital in Harrogate cost £27m and was used for the first time in July when it began outpatient radiology appointments for non-coronavirus patients.

A spokesperson for NHS North East and Yorkshire said: “The Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate has been running a clinical imaging service since June with more than 3,000 patients receiving a diagnostic test or CT scan, and can take patients if required.”