Exeter Nightingale Hospital to become 'pop-up' NHS testing centre

The former Homebase store in Sowton was decommissioned as a Covid-19 hospital earlier this year Credit: ITV News

Exeter's Nightingale Hospital is to be used as a pop-up diagnostic centre where people can get NHS tests and scans.

It will be one of 40 venues across the country put to work to tackle the patient backlog caused by the pandemic.

The former Homebase store in Sowton was decommissioned as a Covid-19 hospital earlier this year. However, it has since been used to provide diagnostic scans to local people, host a vaccine trial and train overseas nurses.

As part of the new government initiative, the pop-ups will carry out a wide range of health checks following referrals from GPs - and aim to provide around 2.8million scans in the first year of operation.

The Hubs will be staffed by teams including nurses and radiographers and will be open seven days a week.

It is hoped they will allow for earlier diagnoses and a reduction in hospital visits, reducing the risk of virus transmission.

They will begin providing services over the next six months and will be fully operational by March 2022.

The news follows an announcement in May this year that the Exeter site would receive funding from the National Accelerator Systems Programme, which has been awarded to Devon to increase capacity to further reduce waiting times for certain types of operations.

As part of this programme, work is underway to create:

  • two operating theatres for day case/ short stay elective (planned) orthopaedic procedures

  • a high volume cataract and diagnostic hub for glaucoma and medical retina

  • a community diagnostic hub to include CT and MRI

  • an outpatient rheumatology and infusions centre