EXCLUSIVE: Treatment at Nightingale Covid hospital in London ‘to be ended in less than two months’.26 April 2020
The source said the decision not to continue treating Covid-19 patents there could correctly be interpreted as a sign of the success in the battle against corona.
“What have not been understood by the public is that the Nightingale hospitals are only equipped to deal with Covid patients who need a ventilator and nothing else,“ the source told correspondent.world.
“Only our main hospitals can deal with those who have failure in the kidneys or other organs which also require equipment.”
The source said all seriously ill Covid-19 patients can be accommodated at existing hospitals because there had been a lower than expected admission to the intensive care awards.
At present London’s Nightingale hospital has fewer than 50 patients, and the source said those still there at the time would be transferred back into London hospitals’ Covid wards by June.
However the source sounded a note of caution.
“We expect there could be a second wave of infections as we reduce the strictest aspects of the lockdown,” the source said. “But experience is now showing us that even then we will not need these special Covid hospitals. These can in any case only treat a small proportion of the Covid cases, given that they are respirators-only.”
The source also revealed that around half the patients admitted to the Intensive Care Units at the nations hospitals would not emerge alive.
The intention to scale back was implied by the Financial Times this weekend, in an article headlined: “Nightingale hospitals largely empty as NHS weathers the storm.“
It continued (extracts):
Facilities were launched with a fanfare but medics complain they lack equipment for complex Covid-19 cases.
NHS leaders reject any suggestion that they have become “white elephants”, casting the dearth of coronavirus sufferers at the Nightingales as a mark of how well the health service prepared for the biggest public health emergency in a century. The UK has avoided the wrenching scenes in Italy where dying patients were treated in corridors after some hospitals ran out of beds.
On Sunday, Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, pointed to more than 30,000 beds in regular hospitals that had been released to make way for coronavirus patients, limiting the need to make “extensive use” of the Nightingales. It would “count as a huge success for the whole country if we never need to use [the Nightingales] but with further waves of coronavirus possible it is important that we have these extra facilities in place and treating patients”, Sir Simon said.
To be admitted to one of its 4,000 beds, patients must need full ventilation but no other specialist support, a rubric that excludes patients with multiple organ failure or pregnant women, for example, because they do not have the specialist staff or equipment.
One critical care doctor said that, as he and his fellow medics had learned more about the disease, they realised patients were likely to need renal or surgical support, which the Nightingale was not equipped to provide. Rejecting one report that the London facility has struggled with staffing levels and had to turn away seriously ill patients, officials said the intention had always been that staff would be drawn in from other hospitals as and when they were needed.
At other Nightingales, the story is of facilities largely unused because regular NHS hospitals have been able to care for coronavirus patients.
David Rosser, chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs four hospitals in the city, cautioned last week: “Is it as good as a bed in a hospital? No, not by a long stretch. It remains fundamentally a warehouse with beds in it.”
Ben Wallace, defence secretary, suggested they could be pressed into service for different kinds of treatment, such as cancer or step-down care, noting that partly due to the effectiveness of the lockdown, “there’s not full utilisation of some of these Nightingales”. There was “a discussion to be had, with the wider NHS, about do you want to use these facilities for something else, or do you want to decant Covid [patients] to there and go back to your day job elsewhere”, he told MPs.
An NHS spokesperson said: “Looking out over the coming months we expect to sustain the Nightingales and also deploy them to support recovering patients and others, as the rest of the NHS re-establishes routine services.”