“The measures taken to introduce social distancing and manage hospital demand have meant that we’ve not yet needed to use the NHS Nightingale hospital for its original intended purpose,” Steve Russell, chief executive of the Nightingale and the local Humber and Harrogate and District NHS Trust, said.The government spent an estimated £220m setting up England’s Nightingale hospitals, figures have shown.
The numbers – revealed in a Freedom of Information request (FoI) – cover all of the seven sites built to help the country deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
However, some of these field hospitals have not taken in a Covid-19 patient to date, according to the Health Service Journal (HSJ).
Responding to an FoI request into the cost of these critical care hospitals, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the total set-up cost for the seven sites was about £220m, according to estimates provided by the NHS.
Running costs in April were around £15m, the health ministry said.
Nightingale hospitals in England have been on standby incase their intensive care beds are needed to cope with a surge in Covid-19 patients.
The temporary site in London – which was the first Nightingale hospital to open in April – stopped taking in new patients in early May following limited demand for its services.
In mid-May, the Manchester hospital remained the only one of the temporary sites in England treating patients, Downing Street said.
“The fact that the Nightingales have not had to be used in a significant way is testament to the sacrifices of the British public and the hard work of the NHS in keeping the infection rate down,” the prime minister’s official spokesperson said, “and ensuring that extra capacity is made available in existing hospitals.”
The Nightingale hospital in Yorkshire announced earlier this month it would reopen for CT scans for hundreds of patients a week.
“We’ve therefore taken the decision to utilise the equipment and begin offering CT scans at the facility so that we can get patients seen quickly.”
An NHS spokesperson said the Nightingale hospitals were “built to provide back-up capacity to be used as needed”, adding: “It is very good news for the health of our country that they have so far been needed much less than they might have been.”
The spokesperson said: “Coronavirus is still with us and work is now underway to consider what role the Nightingales may play as the NHS begins to bring back non-urgent services, while maintaining critical care capacity and providing rehabilitation care for those who need it.”