Exeter’s Nightingale to begin treating Covid-19 patients

Exeter’s Nightingale Hospital will begin treating coronavirus patients tomorrow.

[Contains a good summary of the history and interesting information on costs – Owl] 

Katie Timms www.devonlive.com

The first COVID-19 patients will be transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital to the 116-bed hospital in Sowton on Thursday.

Construction of the hospital was completed in July and it was originally intended to ‘provide care for patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus‘.

However, a fall in numbers of cases meant the hospital was not used for its original purpose and had been used for ‘diagnostic testing for a range of conditions’ since July.

An NHS spokesperson has now confirmed that the RD&E is “very busy”, resulting in patients being moved to the Nightingale.

It comes after two more deaths were reported at the RD&E today, bringing the total Covid-19 related deaths at the hospital to 70.

A Nightingale Hospital spokesperson said: “The Nightingale Exeter will accept patients tomorrow (Thursday) who will be transferred from the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E) which is very busy.

“We would ask that the public continue to observe the Government’s advice on observing the lockdown and social distancing so that we can keep patients safe.”

Responding to the news, Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: “Very good news that the Exeter Nightingale hospital is finally opening for patients tomorrow to take pressure off the RD&E hospitals and other local NHS services to cope with unprecedented Covid-19 UK pressures.”

A Freedom of Information request (FoI) in August confirmed that no patients had been treated at the hospital.

Philippa Slinger, chief executive leading the development of Nightingale Exeter, said: “While it remains the case that the Nightingale Exeter isn’t needed for Covid patients, we will be using our CT scanner to help local GPs and hospitals provide people with safer and faster access to tests for a range of conditions, not just cancer.

“The hospital beds are specifically designed for people with Covid needs, and throughout this time the facility will remain ready to quickly revert to our primary purpose and receive patients with Covid, if the number of cases in the region rises significantly.”

It comes as another FoI revealed how much the site in Sowton cost to build.

The exact cost of the hospital – one of seven built across the country at the start of the coronavirus pandemic – was not initially revealed.

An FoI in July showed that the Government spent an estimated £220 million setting up England’s seven Nightingale hospitals, while running costs in April were revealed to be around £15 million.

Details of how much each individual site cost were withheld.

However, another FOI in August saw the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust state that it had cost them £19,807,000 to build the hospital, rising to £22,643,000 when ‘costs incurred by other organisations’ was taken into account.

The ‘monthly stand-by costs’ of the hospital were listed as £409,000.

It was originally planned to be at Westpoint Arena and was scheduled to have 700 beds.

However, the location was changed as plans were scaled down to the current 36,000 sq ft site at a former retail unit.

Sunday saw the UK record another 18,662 coronavirus cases and 398 deaths.

The figure included 141 deaths which were omitted from Saturday’s Government figures in error, and brings the total number of deaths to 55,024.

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