NHS plans to set up ‘mini Nightingales’ to tackle Omicron surge: Hospital canteens, car parks and meeting rooms could be turned into wards if health service is overwhelmed by variant
- NHS England revealed plans for ‘mini Nightingales’ to health bosses on Tuesday
- Makeshift wards will be run by non-hospital staff and care for up to 100 patients
- Army medical personnel will be asked to help but request has not yet been made
The Army will be called in to help run makeshift Covid wards inside hospital canteens, car parks and meeting rooms if the NHS becomes overwhelmed by the Omicron variant, it has been revealed.
NHS England told health bosses of plans to create ‘lots of little Nightingales’ should hospitalisations surpass those of last January’s peak – referencing the seven Nightingale pop-up hospitals set up in England to cope with a feared surplus of Covid patients, but which were never used on a large scale.
In a series of conference calls on Tuesday, NHS England said the makeshift wards would care for up to 100 patients.
According to the plans, reported by the Health Service Journal, they would be used to treat those who are the least sick.
Patients in a more serious or critical condition, including those requiring oxygen and ventilators, would continue to be treated in existing specialist wards.
Army medical personnel will be involved in operating the ‘mini Nightingales’, health bosses were told, although formal request for assistance have not yet been made.
NHS England told health bosses of plans to create ‘lots of little Nightingales’ should hospitalisations surpass those of last January’s peak (Pictured: Ambulance staff members in the car park at the ExCeL London exhibition centre in London on April 1, 2020, after it was transformed into an NHS Nightingale Hospital)
In a series of conference calls on Tuesday, NHS England said the makeshift wards would care for up to 100 patients (Pictured: Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock is pictured at the opening of London’s 4,000-bed Nightingale Hospital in April 2020)
The regional conference calls said those without clinical experience who work for local commissioning groups (CCGs), would also be roped in to the effort, reported the Times.
It comes after Sajid Javid told the Cabinet earlier this week of plans to create ‘on-site Nightingales’.
The Health Secretary said they would be smaller versions of the seven pop-up Nightingale hospitals which were shut down in April this year.
The ‘mini Nightingales’ plan to have non-hospital staff running the makeshift wards comes as the NHS is suffering from staffing shortages.
According to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), one in 13 doctors are currently off work due to Covid.
Sajid Javid told the Cabinet earlier this week of plans to create ‘on-site Nightingales’ to cope with an Omicron surge (Pictured: A Nightingale hospital in Exeter in the Sowton Industrial Estate)
London is reporting the highest number of absences, with the health body describing it as ‘the worst we’ve seen during the pandemic’ while PPE has been available.
Andrew Goddard, president of the RCP, said: ‘If we had proper NHS workforce planning, taking into account current and likely future demand, I predict we would have many more thousands of doctors, nurses and other clinicians.’
A spokesperson for the NHS said: ‘In light of the potential threat of Omicron, it is right that the NHS prepares for any surge in hospital admissions.
‘Hospitals are already putting measures in place.
‘The best thing the public can do is book their booster vaccine.’
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