NHS has announced that two more NHS Nightingale hospitals will be opened in Sunderland and Exeter to provide additional beds for patients with coronavirus symptoms, in the weeks ahead.

Following the announcement about the development of NHS Nightingale hospitals in Bristol and Harrogate, a few days later NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens  confirmed the additional sites in Devon and Tyne and Wear.

Within a few weeks, this takes the total count of confirmed NHS Nightingale hospitals  to seven.

The Exeter and Sunderland hospitals are expected to be operational towards the end of this month or early May and will add up to 700 beds.

Initially, NHS Nightingale North East will have up to 450 beds, while NHS Nightingale Exeter will have around 200 beds.

This extra capacity is on top of the 33,000 additional beds freed up across NHS hospitals and around 8,000 beds put at the disposal of the NHS through a deal with the independent sector.

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The announcement comes after the first patients began to be admitted to NHS Nightingale Hospital London, which began operating in less than two weeks after its conception.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “These hospitals will provide backup and support for NHS hospitals across the South West and the North East, should it be needed.

“Our local health service staff have rightly recommended we go ahead with these additional faciliites. But our ambition as a country has to be to continue to stay at home to cut infections and save lives – so that the need to actually use these Nightingale hospitals is as limited as possible.”

The seven confirmed NHS Nightingale hospitals will be integrated with existing NHS Hospitals across England.

NHS England national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “As the NHS faces the greatest health challenge in its history, we’re supporting patients and staff with additional capacity across the soon-to-be seven NHS Nightingale Hospitals.”

“The new sites – including the two announced today in Sunderland and Exeter – will give the NHS the best chance of ensuring coronavirus patients needing specialist care can get it, wherever they live.”

“It is an incredible feat, but the key aim is to reduce the number of patients needing them, so I urge everyone to take sensible steps to reduce transmission of this virus.”

This will take the initial number of extra beds to be created by the Nightingale project across the country to over 3,600.