New Nightingale Hospital in Exeter could be used to 'help tackle winter pressures', health secretary confirms

Wednesday 24th June 2020 7:27 am
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The new Nightingale Hospital being built in Exeter could be used to help other Devon hospitals tackle winter pressures later this year, health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.

The 116-bed hospital, designed as an emergency field hospital for coronavirus patients, is being built on the site of a former Homebase in Moor Lane in Sowton.

Work continues to complete the build of the new hospital, which is set to be able to open to patients by July.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said that Exeter’s new hospital would have a flexible uses that other hospitals.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp asked him: “I am sure the secretary of state hopes it will never have to be used, but can he assure me that the Nightingale will help the RDE, community hospitals and health and wellbeing hubs continue to focus efforts on delivering the superb services they are well known for across East Devon?”

In response, he said: “Exeter’s Nightingale will have more flexible uses than previous Nightingales, so it will be usable for instance should there be extra winter pressures. It is all part of protecting the NHS and making sure it is always there for everyone.”

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has been on black alert at least twice in last five winters, and at last week’s Devon County Council Health and Adult Care scrutiny committee, Cllr Paul Crabb asked: “In the absence of covid, could it remain as a hospital to help the NHS with winter pressures? Is that what is still being hoping to be achieved as it seems a good idea?”

Sonja Manton, interim director of commissioning said that while the Nightingale Hospital was part of the coronavirus response and if required will accept patients in July, the numbers are still very low but they are keeping an eye of things as they can change quickly.

She added: “As for the winter, no decisions have made but about how we use this for the best capacity, while we plan for potential surges.”

Questions had been raised about why given the decreasing number of cases across the region why the new hospital was continuing to be constructed, with Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox revealing on Tuesday morning that just two patients were in hospital in Devon with coronavirus.

The number of newly confirmed cases across Devon and Cornwall is just seven over the last week, while the latest ONS figures saw just seven deaths across the two counties in the most recent week.

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