Nightingale Hospitals in Harrogate and Sunderland told to prepare to take patients

Opening of the Nightingale Hospital in Sunderland.

Some Nightingale Hospitals, including the ones in Harrogate and Sunderland, have been told to prepare to take patients, due to a rise in cases.

England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said there had clearly been a "marked pick-up" in coronavirus cases, which would result in more deaths.

At a briefing to present the latest data, Professor Van-Tam said that although there was more testing now than at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, it was clear there was a resurgence in cases.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS England Medical Director, said the country was in a better position than in March and April.

"Clearly we have learnt many things from that first wave, we have learnt better treatments for patients, and Dexamethasone... we learnt that that reduces deaths."

But he warned: "R is above one, that means that infections will continue to rise, and as infections continue to rise, then hospital admissions and impact on health services continue to rise."

Nightingale Hospitals opened in Washington and Harrogate in the spring. They were built in a matter of weeks to provide additional capacity if our mainstream hospitals became overwhelmed by the number of COVID cases.

So far, neither of the Nightingales in our region have been needed to treat coronavirus patients and hundreds of beds have remained empty. Now, as cases continue to rise, they have been asked to ready themselves again.

However, Dr Gus Vincent, Clinical Director of Critical Care at the RVI, tells us that based on his experience - coupled with the picture around the region - the opening of the Nightingale is far from inevitable.