The new 4,000 bed hospital the NHS Nightingale hospital in London is turning away “life and death” patients over a lack of nurses.
The field hospital opened on 7 April at the ExCel Centre turned away 30 coronavirus patients from existing hospitals, the Guardian reported.
The hospital to date has only accepted 41 patients, 30 are still being looked after and four died. There is concern that the new 4,000 bed hospital could turn out to be a “white elephant,” which could take away vital resources from other hospitals.
The Nightingale is equipped with beds, ventilators, medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Documents seen by the Guardian newspaper claim there have been difficulties in recruiting nurses from other hospitals who are being “run ragged.”
A member of staff said, “There are plenty of people working here, including plenty of doctors. But there aren’t enough critical care nurses.
“They’re already working in other hospitals and being run ragged there.
“There aren’t spare people [specialist nurses] around to do this. That’s the problem.”
The NHS documents further revealed that a further 20 coronavirus patients were also turned away as they were “too unwell,” despite being designed to take pressure away from other NHS hospitals across the capital.
A senior intensive care doctor told the Guardian, “The Nightingale is clearly not a hospital. It’s an emergency overflow facility to ventilate patients to stop them from dying when hospitals have run out of space.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said, “This story is incredibly misleading – there is no shortage of nurses and all coronavirus patients who need treatment are being treated in existing London hospitals.
“NHS Nightingale has been set up to treat patients if the NHS was overwhelmed, but thanks to the great work of selfless NHS staff, there is spare capacity in existing London hospitals.
“NHS Nightingale’s staffing model was always designed to be flexible based on demand across London.
“Nurses working across the city in other roles have received critical care training and are ready to be deployed to NHS Nightingale to treat coronavirus patients should capacity be reached in existing London hospitals.”
On Tuesday afternoon the Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that there will be no compromise to the lockdown until there is no risk of a second peak.