Health officials in London have been asked to “prepare” the city’s Covid-19 field hospital for patients as the number of cases in the UK continues to rise.
Hospitals in the capital are facing significant pressure, a spokesman for the London National Health Service told Sky News.
He said: “In anticipation of the growing pressure from the spread of the new variant of infection, NHS London has been asked to ensure that London Nightingale has been reactivated and ready to admit patients as needed, and this process is ongoing.”
The new variant, which was recently discovered in the south-east of England, is believed to spread more easily than other iterations of the virus. Many countries have closed their borders to the UK because of the variant, which has since been discovered around the world.
Official figures show that 22,713 patients with Covid-19 were treated in English hospitals on Wednesday, of which 5,524 in London. The UK as a whole reported 55,892 new positive test results on Thursday, providing a rate of 377 cases per 100,000 residents.
London’s Nightingale Camp Hospital, located at the ExCel Convention Center, was set up in early April to treat up to 4,000 patients. It is one of seven emergency rooms designed to help reduce pressure on hospitals.
But the £ 220 million facility has been criticized for treating a relatively small number of patients. Conformable timeNightingales treated about 200 patients in total during the first wave of the pandemic. Even fewer than 20 people were being treated at Nightingale in London when he resigned in May, the BBC reports.
Patients with Covid-19 were rejected in the spring due to a lack of intensive care staff on site, according to the Guardian.
Hospitals have been on hold as the number of cases has risen in the UK, but some equipment, including beds and fans, has been moved from the London site, the BBC said.
On Tuesday, Mail Online reported that only 28 Covid-19 patients were currently being treated at Nightingales. But an NHS spokesman said the Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate sites are being used to care for non-covid patients.
Dr. Nick Scriven, the former president of the Society for Acute Medicine, questioned the role of hospitals. He said, according to the BBC, “It is not ‘just the case’ to use Nightingale Hospital, because there is simply no staff for it to function as originally intended.
It could probably play a role if they are used as rehabilitation units for those recovering, but again, where we find specialist staff – the NHS simply does not have the capacity to spare anyone.