NHS Nightingale Hospital in Exeter – with 200 beds for coronavirus patients – to be set up at Westpoint

A new NHS Nightingale Hospital is to be opened at Westpoint, Exeter, to provide 200 extra beds – if needed – for coronavirus patients.

The facility, announced by health chiefs yesterday (Saturday, 10 April), is expected to be ready by early May.

It will serve Devon, Cornwall and neighbouring counties and is the seventh care hub of its kind in the country.

NHS bosses say the five hospitals in Devon and Cornwall ‘will provide the majority of care for critically ill patients with coronavirus’.

Plans are in place to increase their critical care capacity up to 500 beds across both counties.

Elizabeth O’Mahony, regional firector for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West, said coronavirus is ‘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 set-up of the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter will be overseen by Phillipa 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.”

Responding to the announcement, East Devon MP Simon Jupp said: “I warmly welcome plans for the new NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter based at Westpoint.

“The extra 200 beds will ensure our superb local NHS is as prepared as possible to beat the virus.

“Opening in early May, the new Nightingale Hospital Exeter builds on existing plans to increase critical care capacity in hospitals across Devon.

“We must all play our part by staying at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”

The new facility at Westpoint 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’.

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