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Coronavirus: Downing Street confirms London's NHS Nightingale to be put on 'standby' due to lack of patients

The temporary unit is being placed on standby

2 min read

London's NHS Nightingale hospital is to be put on "standby" due to a lack of patients, Downing Street has confirmed.

Number 10 said the 4,000 bed emergency unit based at the ExCel center in Docklands would be mothballed within days due to the continued decline of cases in the capital.

The temporary facility has remained largely empty since it was built in late March after London's conventional hospitals quickly added extra capacity to deal with coronavirus patients.

Speaking on Monday, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the unit would remain on standby should there be a second peak of infections, but refused to say whether other Nightingale hospitals across the country would also shut.

"It's not likely that in the coming days we'll need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale while coronavirus in the capital remains under control," they said.

"That’s obviously a very positive thing and we remain grateful to everybody in London for following the Government’s advice in helping to protect the NHS.

"What the Nightingale will be is effectively placed on standby so it would be ready to receive patients should that be required, but we are not anticipating that will be the case."

Asked if they had therefore been a waste of money, they said: "No, absolutely not."

It comes after Boris Johnson revealed last week that the UK had passed the peak of the infection, but warned the country was at the point of "maximum risk" as it looked to ease lockdown restrictions.

Meanwhile, staff at the emergency unit were informed of the decision by the hospital's chief executive, Professor Charles Knight, who said: "It is likely that in the coming days we will not need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale, while coronavirus in the capital remains under control."

The senior doctor revealed in the memo that the facility had not needed to expand beyond a single ward as he praised Londonders for "following the expert advice to stay home and save lives."

He added: "As a result, after the last of this our first group of patients leaves, the hospital will be placed on standby, ready to resume operations as and when needed in the weeks and potentially months to come."

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