NHS steps up coronavirus capacity with new Nightingale Hospital

A new NHS Nightingale Hospital will be opened in Exeter to provide 200 extra beds for patients with coronavirus symptoms if needed

The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter, announced today by NHS Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, brings the total to seven confirmed NHS Nightingale Hospitals in a matter of weeks.

The five hospitals in Devon and Cornwall will provide the majority of care for critically ill patients with coronavirus, and have plans in place to increase their critical care capacity up to 500 beds across both counties.

Our new NHS Nightingale Hospital, which is expected to be ready for the first patients, if needed, by June, will provide a regional resource of 200 beds for Devon, Cornwall and neighbouring counties to meet the care needs for patients who are seriously unwell due to their coronavirus symptoms.

The single biggest challenge facing our country for generations

Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director, NHS England and NHS Improvement – South West, said coronavirus was “the single biggest challenge facing our country for generations.”

She added: “We can learn from the work we are doing in Bristol and the other Nightingale Hospitals across the country. We want the NHS in the South West to be as well prepared as possible.

“The Nightingale Exeter will support our existing hospital network to care for critically ill patients from the south of the region. We are taking steps now to ensure that the hospital is available if required but we hope that it is not needed. We ask everyone in the South West to continue to follow the national recommendations to reduce transmission of the virus, please stay at home, observe social distancing, protect your local NHS and each of you will help save lives.”

The right critical care capacity

The set-up of this new facility will be overseen by Philippa Slinger, an experienced NHS Chief Executive, and currently lead Chief Executive for the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. She said: “I would like to thank local people for their extraordinary support to the NHS by staying at home. Where people have needed to go out for essential reasons, they have by and large practised good social distancing. These actions need to continue as they are helping us to manage the pandemic.

“However, our new NHS Nightingale Hospital will ensure we have the right critical care capacity in place to help us manage the expected upsurge in cases. Getting our new facility open is a huge task and will be a real collaborative partnership between all NHS providers, commissioners, partner agencies, the armed forces and contractors.”

The new Nightingale Hospital will be hosted by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust. It will be run as a system level model to ensure resilience across the Devon, Cornwall and wider South West region, with a sub-structure of geographically aligned clinical networks.