A Nightingale Hospital being built in Exeter could be used to help other Devon facilities tackle winter pressures, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.
The 116-bed emergency field hospital, designed for coronavirus patients, is being constructed on the site of the former Homebase store in Moor Lane, Sowton.
It is expected to be available for use, if needed, by July.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said that Exeter’s new hospital would have ‘flexible uses’.
East Devon MP Simon Jupp said: “Local construction firms are working around the clock to build the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Exeter…I’m sure the Secretary of State will agree with me that we all hope it will never have to be used.
“Can he assure my constituents that the Nightingale will help the RD&E, our community hospitals and health and wellbeing hubs continue to focus efforts on delivering the superb services they are well-known for across East Devon?”
Local construction firms and NHS staff deserve enormous praise in preparing the @NightingaleExt. Great to hear @MattHancock confirm it will support @RDEhospitals and community hospitals in #EastDevon so they can continue to reintroduce and deliver their outstanding services. pic.twitter.com/X5Y6rSDDuM
— Simon Jupp MP (@simonjamesjupp) June 23, 2020
Mr Hancock responded: “Exeter’s Nightingale will have more flexible uses than previous Nightingales, so it will be usable for instance should there be extra winter pressures.
“It is all part of protecting the NHS and making sure it is always there for everyone.”
The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has been on ‘black alert’ – which declares when a hospital is under such significant pressure it cannot ‘deliver comprehensive care’ – at least twice in past five winters.
At a meeting of Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee last week, Councillor Paul Crabb asked: “In the absence of Covid, could it remain as a hospital to help the NHS with winter pressures? Is that what is still being hoping to be achieved as it seems a good idea?”
Sonja Manton, interim director of commissioning, told him: “As for the winter, no decisions have made about how we use this for the best capacity while we plan for potential surges.”
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