Patients needing scans and tests for cancer and other treatments will be seen at the Exeter Nightingale Hospital until the building is needed by coronavirus medics.
This week it was confirmed there was no immediate need to use the newly-built Nightingale hospital for COVID-19 patients so it would support local GPs and medics to offer faster access to tests and CT scans.
The hospital, in Moor Lane, Sowton, will remain ready to receive coronavirus patients if the number of cases in the region rises significantly.
Across the UK thousands of patients have had NHS treatments stopped, or delayed, and scans cancelled during the coronavirus lockdown – resulting in a backlog.
Philippa Slinger, chief executive leading the development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter, said patients waiting for tests would be referred ‘as soon as possible’.
She said: “ We are pleased to confirm that we do not need to use the Nightingale hospital in Exeter immediately for patients with Covid, and while that remains the case we will be using our CT scanner to help local GPs and hospitals provide people with safer and faster access to tests.
“Subject to final checks of the site we hope to begin offering these tests as soon as possible, and those patients referred to us will receive details in the way they usually would.”
The 116-bed hospital, built for patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus, will remain on standby until it is needed.
It was developed to provide critical care for patients suffering from the symptoms of COVID-19.
There are seven in total across the UK, including NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter.
Ms Slinger added: “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.”
As well as treating the sickest patients, Nightingale Exeter can also be used for those patients with less severe problems associated with COVID-19 – and for those who are recovering after a period in hospital.
It can offer extra capacity so the existing five hospitals in the region can continue to operate other essential clinical services.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter will care mostly for patients from Devon and Cornwall but can also take patients from other parts of the region.
It is run by The Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.