Less than three weeks since work started, NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and the Humber opens today (Tuesday, 21st April).
Based in Harrogate Convention Centre, it will provide some 500 more beds for coronavirus patients, if local services need them.
The new facility is one of seven Nightingale hospitals to be set up around the country as part of a massive NHS effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century.
This extra capacity is on top of the 33,000 additional beds freed up across NHS hospitals – the equivalent of building 50 district general hospitals – and the up to 8,000 beds put at the NHS’s disposal through an unprecedented deal with the independent sector.
These measures combined mean that capacity still exists in hospitals to care for patients with coronavirus, as well as other patients who may need urgent and emergency treatment, with the Nightingales standing ready if local services need them beyond that.
Captain Tom Moore has been invited to open the new hospital to honour his fundraising efforts on behalf of the NHS. He will joined be Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock and Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens. The opening will be conducted by video link in line with social distancing policies.
Steve Russell, Chief Executive, NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber and Chief Executive of Harrogate District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This new NHS Nightingale Hospital – like the others across the country – is an extraordinary achievement, and provides local people and staff with the reassurance that there will be additional beds available if they are required. It is a vital insurance policy, which we hope will not be needed.
“Our doctors, nurses, therapists and other health and social care staff across Yorkshire and the Humber are working incredibly hard to make sure people get the care they need during what is the single greatest challenge in the history of the NHS, but they can’t do it alone.
“The most important thing remains for the public to continue to follow expert advice and stay at home – reducing the number of people who get the virus, and therefore the need for NHS treatment.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, said: “I have been incredibly impressed by the sheer dedication, professionalism and altruism of everyone involved in setting up NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and The Humber – from the NHS clinical staff and engineers to the construction workers and military planners.
“It’s an honour to be asked to open this hospital alongside Captain Tom Moore. During this worrying and difficult time for our whole country his phenomenal achievement has reminded us of our common bonds and served to further unite us.
“My heartfelt thanks also goes out to all the staff who will be working on the ground, providing extra capacity for patients if local hospitals need it. ”
The official opening provides an opportunity to thank all those involved who have pulled out all the stops to ensure that capacity still exists to care for patients with coronavirus.