Nightingale hospital in Preston to be shut down after seven months despite Covid rates increasing

Preston's Nightingale hospital is being shut down despite concerns that Covid rates are increasing.

When the North West was the epicentre of the Omicron wave in October 2021, contractors were able to build the unit in the car park at the Royal Preston Hospital in just over two weeks. 

Staff say it has been one of the most well-used Nightingale Hospitals in the country.

Sister Tisha Bradley says it was tough but it did make a difference.

She said: "We had no staffing and to have a ward of 50 patients, it's massive - it's a lot bigger than the wards in the hospital.

"The environment, it's not a normal environment. We're in a tent, the ceilings are black, there are no windows - it's very tough."

But at the same time as the closure NHS Trusts across the North West are reporting increases in Covid hospitalisations of between 50 and 200% in recent weeks.

A total of 58 covid patients are currently being treated at the hospital for Covid, a sharp increase on the previous week.

The unit took contractors two weeks to build in the hospital's car park. Credit: ITV News

The structure was part of the government's contingency plans to deal with Covid cases but as rates came down, the trust's chief executive fought to keep it open to deal with wider NHS pressures. Kevin McGee, CEO of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "It gives us 50 additional beds that we can use to support cancer recovery, support elective surgery and we can cope with the spikes of winter pressures.

"I'm sad to see it go but I do think we need to get back to normal."

The Nightingale hub cost over a million pounds to build and most of the equipment will be used in other parts of the NHS trust, including some beds being sent to Chorley Hospital.

But there is concern that with a rise in cases, dismantling the unit may be premature.

The CEO of the NHS Trust used the space to also help wider NHS pressures but is keen to "get back to normal." Credit: ITV News

But Anne Kirkham, who ran the Nightingale facility, says the time is right.

Most of the beds have already been moved to Chorley hospital where a new surgical ward and three new operating theatres will open at the beginning of July.

But staff know that such a facility can be built quickly should the need arise.