NHS figures have made people question the future and purpose of Londons NHS Nightingale Hospital (Picture: REX/PA/Getty Images)
Londons NHS Nightingale Hospital has been forced to reject dozens of coronavirus patient transfers due to a shortage of staff.
Despite being built to include around 4,000 bed capacity, the temporary facility set-up to combat the Covid-19 pandemic had only provided care for 41 people up until Monday. About 50 patients in need of life and death treatment have been turned away.
Plans to transfer more than 30 seriously ill patients from other hospitals in the capital collapsed due to staffing issues, according to NHS documents seen by the Guardian. A member of staff at the site in the ExCel centre said there are plenty of doctors and other staff but not enough critical care nurses, who are already being run ragged in hospitals across the capital.
Out of the 41 patients who have been accepted for treatment, 30 are still being cared for, seven have been discharged to a less critical level of care and four have died. It brings into question the purpose of the hospital which was built in a matter of weeks due to the overwhelming rise of coronavirus, which has now infected 129,044 people and has killed 17,337, according to Department of Health figures.
Soldiers and private contractors worked tirelessly to set the centre up in a matter of weeks (Picture: PA)
Members of the Armed Forces endured 15 hour shifts as coronavirus cases in the UK kept ramping up (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
But a lack of nurses and better than expected ICU capacity in other London hospitals has meant Nightingale hasnt been able to take on many patients (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Military personnel were deployed and worked 15-hour shifts to get the hospital set up so quickly. Speaking at its opening ceremony on April 3, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.
But a senior intensive care doctor told the Guardian: The Nightingale is clearly not a hospital. Its an emergency overflow facility to ventilate patients to stop them from dying when hospitals have run out of space.
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As the project struggles to alleviate the pressure on hospitals elsewhere in the capital, Northwick Park hospital in north-west London has had to declare a critical incident.
It has been unable to send 30 patients to the Nightingale as planned due to a lack of staff and has had to temporarily stop new admissions.
The Royal Free hospital, St Marys the Royal London and North Middlesex have also had transfers turned down.
The 4,000 bed site has been called an emergency overflow facility rather than a hospital (Picture: PA)
Medical staff are seen wearing PPE clothing outside the new facility at the ExCel Centre (Picture: Reuters)
It is thought there are plenty of other staff at the site including doctors, but not enough critical care nurses (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
About 20 patients were rejected by the Nightingale for medical reasons, such as being too unwell to transfer or not meeting the facilitys strict clinical admission criteria.
A senior member of one London NHS trust described the project as a white elephant.
They said officials feared London being overrun and mass burial sites like in New York or that the situation would be similar to that of Italy.
The source added: London hospitals doubled, tripled and in some cases quadrupled the capacity of their ICUs, so still have spare capacity, which means the Nightingale hasnt been needed.
Other NHS planners have defended the project as a sensible precaution and said it was better to over-prepare for a worst-case scenario.
An NHS London spokesperson said: The most important point about staff at the Nightingale is that thanks to their care and expertise, patients in that hospital are being successfully treated, discharged and ultimately having their life saved.
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