Coronavirus: Two more Nightingale hospitals to open in Bristol and Harrogate
3 April 2020, 00:03 | Updated: 3 April 2020, 07:46
Two more Nightingale hospitals with an extra 1,500 beds will be opened in Bristol and Harrogate, NHS England has announced.
The two newly-planned sites at the University of the West of England and the Harrogate Convention Centre will look after patients from their regions.
The Bristol hospital will be able to look after up to 1,000 patients, while Harrogate can care for up to 500.
The news comes on the same day that the first new hospital is due to open at the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands.
The new 4,000-bed facility has been built in less than a fortnight as hospitals up their critical care capacity to deal with Covid-19.
They will join other sites due to open at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre and Manchester's Central Complex.
NHS hospitals have already managed to free up more than 33,000 beds which is equivalent to 50 new hospitals, according to the service.
The NHS' chief executive has called the building of the London hospital "nothing short of extraordinary".
Sir Simon Stevens added: "Now we are gearing up to repeat that feat at another four sites across the country to add to the surge capacity in current NHS hospitals.
"We're giving the go ahead to these additional sites, hoping they may not be needing but preparing in case they are."
The Health Secretary has also paid tribute to the "hard work and dedication" of staff working on the hospitals across the country.
Mr Hancock said: "The nation is facing an unprecedented global emergency and we are taking exceptional measures to ensure the NHS has whatever it needs to tackle this virus.
"The NHS and the military have achieved something extraordinary in setting up NHS Nightingale, London in only a matter of days."
The news of the new openings came hours after Mr Hancock announced he would write off £13.4 billion of NHS debt and ramp-up coronavirus testing to 100,000 a day.
In the government's daily press conference on the fight against Covid-19, Mr Hancock said the historic move will enable the health service to respond better to the pandemic and ensure it is better prepared in the long-term.
He also said that while Public Health England has delivered a novel test at record-breaking speed, the UK still faces big challenges.
The Health Secretary said he had made £300 million available for community pharmacies and that he wanted to make sure "every part" of the health and care system is supported.
He added: "Today, to help NHS trusts to deliver what's needed without worrying about past finances, I can announce that I'm writing off £13.4 billion of historic NHS debt.
"This landmark step will not only put the NHS in a stronger position to be able to respond to this global coronavirus pandemic, but it will ensure that our NHS has stronger foundations for the future too."