NHS England has announced that new NHS Nightingale hospitals will be constructed in Bristol and Harrogate that would offer hundreds of extra beds during the peak of coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
Currently, hospitals are under development in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that the sites in the south west of England and Yorkshire, which will have up to 1,500 beds if required, have joined Manchester and Birmingham as the latest locations for major new facilities outside of London.
This announcement comes as the first NHS Nightingale hospital, at London’s Excel centre, has opened today.
Set up in a fortnight, the new hospital will be available as soon as patients across London and the south of England require it.
The next hospital will be at the University of the West of England, Bristol, which can look after up to 1,000 patients, while the one at the Harrogate Convention centre will be able to care for up to 500.
The Nightingales are part of a nationwide effort to respond to coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.
Across the country, NHS Hospitals have freed up over 33,000 beds, and a deal has been struck with the independent hospital sector to put up to 8,000 extra beds, staff and equipment at the NHS’ disposal.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “It’s nothing short of extraordinary that this new hospital in London has been established from scratch in less than a fortnight.
“The NHS, working with the military, has done in a matter of days what usually takes years. 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. But that will partly depend on continuing public support for measures to reduce growth in the infection rate by staying at home to save lives.”
NHS Nightingale medical director Dr Allan McGlellan said: “I’m so proud to be a part of this extraordinary achievement and my team and I are ready to care for people who need us.
“The NHS faces the greatest challenge in its history but by setting up this new site we can work with the hardest-hit part of the country, to support staff in the capital’s other hospitals and make sure people who need intensive care can get it.
“We are ready today to do what’s required of us, but my hope is that we are not needed, because if we all take sensible steps to reduce transmission of this virus then fewer people will need care and the pressure on my hardworking colleagues will reduce.”