The country’s Nightingale hospitals will be kept on standby for an expected second wave of coronavirus, it has been confirmed.

NHS England said it is also in talks to maintain the use of private hospitals as it bids to tackle the biggest treatment backlog in its history after all non-urgent procedures were postponed during the main weeks of the coronavirus outbreak.

It follows demands from the Royal College of Surgeons among others to permanently incorporate some of the Nightingales into the NHS, reports MirrorOnline.

Amanda Pritchard, chief operating officer for NHS England, said: “We have thought very carefully about what flexible capacity we need to have as we enter in to Autumn and Winter.

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“We are hoping, planning to maintain Nightingale facilities on a stand-by basis. So we don’t need them now so to be able to be able to bring them back in in a few days.”

She added: “We continue to have some coronavirus with us and expect to do so for a considerable period of time.”

The NHS is braced for unprecedented pressure towards the end of the year treating Covid-19 outbreaks during the flu season.

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NHS boss Simon Stevens said fewer private hospitals would be available to the NHS in any extension to the current deal which expires at the end of June.

“We do expect that we will want to continue to make use of independent sector capacity for the balance of the year in order to give more buffer for routine surgery, cancer care and other conditions,” he said.

The NHS chief said estimates were currently being made as to how much personal protective equipment (PPE) will be needed to fully restart the NHS.

nightingale excel hospital bed

A hospital bed and respirator at the ExCel centre, London, which was transformed into a Nightingale Hospital
(Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

MPs accused the Government of a “negligent” and “reckless” approach by discharging thousands of hospital patients to care homes.

At least 25,000 elderly people were discharged to care homes at the height of the UK outbreak without being tested.

Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) permanent secretary Sir Chris Wormald denied allegations from MPs that care homes were “very much a forgotten cousin” compared to the NHS.

Tory Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: “You were sending people from hospitals in quite large numbers into the care home sector which you knew was already facing a substantial and increasing number of Covid patients of their own.

“They didn’t have sufficient PPE, they didn’t have sufficient testing and they were the most vulnerable group in society.”

Sir Chris responded “The decisions that we took around discharge, which were all based on the clinical advice at the time… were rational given the evidence that we had on the table at that time,” he said.

He later added: “We are in a process of learning as we go along about these issues. I am confident that based on the information that we had at the time our guidance was correct. That is not the same as saying we would do the same again.”

Between March 9 and May 17, around 5,900 care homes across England reported an outbreak.


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