Will empty Nightingale hospital be moved into hibernation? ExCel Centre facility could be mothballed within days after it treated just 51 patients in three weeks

  • The ExCel Centre, which opened on April 3, has the capacity for 4,000 beds 
  • But it faces closure after remaining largely empty, with just 51 patients treated
  • Staff told that a decision on its future was expected to be made early this week 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

One of the five temporary Nightingale hospitals could be mothballed within days under plans ministers will consider this week.

The health centre was built in nine days to expand the NHS’s intensive care capacity to handle an expected surge in coronavirus cases.

The facility at the ExCel Centre in east London, which opened on April 3, has the capacity for 4,000 beds.

But it faces closure after remaining largely empty, with just 51 patients treated in its first three weeks. 

The facility at the ExCel Centre in east London, which opened on April 3, has the capacity for 4,000 beds. Pictured: Chief Executive of the National Health Service Simon Stevens meets with a staff member during a visit to the ExCel Centre

The facility at the ExCel Centre in east London, which opened on April 3, has the capacity for 4,000 beds. Pictured: Chief Executive of the National Health Service Simon Stevens meets with a staff member during a visit to the ExCel Centre

But it faces closure after remaining largely empty, with just 51 patients treated in its first three weeks. Pictured: Military personnel working inside the ExCel Centre, in London

But it faces closure after remaining largely empty, with just 51 patients treated in its first three weeks. Pictured: Military personnel working inside the ExCel Centre, in London

Staff at the hospital were told at a meeting on Friday that a decision on its future was expected to be made early this week.

A leaked internal email, obtained by the Daily Mail, said that while the hospital remained open and ‘in theory accepting admissions’ it now looked likely the initial peak of the virus outbreak had passed.

It added: ‘One possible outcome is for this site to be put into hibernation – ready to come out of hibernation, but not requiring staffing. Central Government will make a decision, we hope, early [this] week.’

It is understood all staff and volunteers that have worked at the site will be given a thank you item, such as a lanyard or T-shirt, when it closes down.

‘One possible outcome is for this site to be put into hibernation'. Pictured: A general view outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre, in London

‘One possible outcome is for this site to be put into hibernation’. Pictured: A general view outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre, in London

There were also plans for two more in Exeter and Tyne and Wear, but it is believed these may now be scrapped. Pictured: An ambulance outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre, in London

There were also plans for two more in Exeter and Tyne and Wear, but it is believed these may now be scrapped. Pictured: An ambulance outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the Excel Centre, in London

Five Nightingale hospitals have been opened in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate, but they have received very few patients.

It is unclear whether the Government is planning to put the other four hospitals into hibernation or keep them open in the short term. 

There were also plans for two more in Exeter and Tyne and Wear, but it is believed these may now be scrapped.

NHS England’s national medical director yesterday said it would have been ‘foolish’ not to plan for extra capacity to tackle the coronavirus. 

Professor Stephen Powis said the extra capacity provided by the Nightingale hospitals may still be needed in the future.

He added: ‘We need to maintain that extra capacity until we have more certainty.’

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