The NHS is set to establish temporary structures called Nightingale surge hubs across eight hospitals in the UK as a preparatory measure to cope with a potential wave of Omicron admissions.
Works for the new Nightingale facilities are expected to begin as early as this week. They will have the capacity to accommodate approximately 100 patients.
These hubs will admit patients requiring minimal support and monitoring, thereby freeing beds space at hospitals for patients with more intensive needs.
They will accept patients recovering from Covid-19, and those who do not need intensive oxygen therapy.
The Nightingale surge facilities will be led by hospital consultants as well as nurses, who will be supported by clinical and non-clinical staff.
In addition to hospitals, NHS trusts are identifying sites such as education centres and gyms that can be converted into Nightingale hubs to create up to 4,000 ‘super surge’ beds across the country.
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This move comes as health care facilities are making use of hospices, hotels and care homes to discharge as many people who are medically fit to leave as possible, safely.
NHS National Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Given the high level of Covid-19 infections and increasing hospital admissions, the NHS is now on a war footing.
“We do not yet know exactly how many of those who catch the virus will need hospital treatment, but given the number of infections we cannot wait to find out before we act and so work is beginning from today to ensure these facilities are in place.
“Staff across the health service are working around the clock to provide the best possible care to patients and rollout the NHS Covid vaccination programme.”