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The medical director of Exeter's new Nightingale hospital says the country 'needs to be ready' for the possibility that Covid-19 could surge again in future, despite the number of cases and deaths continuing to fall.
The hospital, one of five around the UK, is expected to open by the end of June, and Dr Rob Dyer says the facility is essential to 'manage future surges'.
He added: "Though there is currently capacity in our hospitals, modelling suggests that we need to be ready for further surges.
"We have always been clear that if these beds are not needed for critically ill patients with Covid, then that is good news.
"However, the Nightingale Hospital Exeter has been designed to be flexible to support the recovery of our hospitals after a period where we have not been able to provide ‘usual services’.
"NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter will serve a huge area – the Devon and Cornwall peninsula and our neighbouring counties (Dorset and Somerset) as required."
The NHS Nightingale hospital had been planned for Westpoint Arena, but it was decided that a site the size of Westpoint was not required due to the lower-than-expected transmission rates of Covid-19 in the South West.
Instead, NHS Nightingale Exeter will be based at the former Homebase store in Sowton industrial estate.
It has been revealed this week that the Nightingale Hospital in Bristol has not seen any patients since it opened at the end of April.
The temporary Nightgale hospital was built at a conference centre at the University of the West of England (UWE).
Health secretary Matt Hancock, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, and Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, opened the venue in a virtual ceremony.
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