Less than four weeks since work began, the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East was officially launched today (Tuesday, 5 May) by the Countess of Wessex and TV legends Ant and Dec.
Serving the region, the temporary hospital based in Washington will be able to provide up to 460 ventilated beds for patients with Covid19, should local services require them.
The new facility is one of seven Nightingale hospitals to be set up around the country as part of a massive NHS effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century.
This extra capacity is on top of the 33,000 additional beds freed up across NHS hospitals – the equivalent of building 50 district general hospitals – and the up to 8,000 beds put at the NHS’s disposal through an unprecedented deal with the independent sector.
Watch a time-lapse of the hospital being constructed
These measures combined mean that at all times there has been enough capacity in hospitals to care for patients with coronavirus as well as all other patients who may need urgent and emergency treatment, with the Nightingales standing ready if local services need them beyond that.
While new infections are currently decreasing, the Nightingale hospitals will remain in place initially in case of a new peak, and beyond that to help local NHS services plan to bring back non-urgent services such as routine operations.
Unprecedented efforts and collaborations
NHS teams, construction contractors, civic partners and the Army have pulled together in an unprecedented effort to build the temporary hospital, which will be staffed as part of its collaborations with trusts from across the region.
The Countess of Wessex officially opened the new hospital, joined by Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, chief executive of the NHS, Sir Simon Stevens, and local celebrities Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. The opening will be via video link, in line with social distancing rules, with live streaming to key sites.
Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new NHS Nightingale Hospital will provide extra, specialist capacity to care for coronavirus patients from across the North East and North Cumbria, should the NHS need it.
“Completing this facility in a matter of weeks is a huge testimony to the power of pulling together to achieve a joint goal and all partners involved – from the NHS, construction contractors and partner organisations – have worked tirelessly to achieve this. My gratitude and thanks go to everyone involved.
Health and care staff, and people in local communities across the region, can be reassured there will be additional beds for specialist care if it is needed.Dame Jackie Daniel, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
“Of course, we hope that we will continue to infection rates going down and existing hospitals coping well, but we do have everything in place to respond rapidly if need be, and in time it may be that we can use this resource to enable teams to restore those non-urgent services that have needed to be paused.
“For now the most important thing to emphasise is that everyone in the region can help the NHS to continue to save lives by following the expert advice – wash hands thoroughly and regularly, and stay at home if you can.”
Partners who have worked to establish NHS Nightingale Hospital North East include:
- NHS organisations across the region
- Sunderland Council
- The British Army
- Tolent Construction
- Geoffrey Robinson Limited
- Northern Powergrid
Construction of the hospital has involved:
- 31 miles of electrical / communications cable
- 8 miles of copper pipework
- 2 miles of ventilation ductwork
- 920 oxygen, 460 medical air and 460 vacuum outlets
- 9000m2 of vinyl flooring
- 7500m2 of plasterboard and stud partition
- 1400 litres of anti-microbial paint
- More than 80,000 construction working hours
- 300+ workers working 24 hour shifts