Exeter’s Nightingale Hospital is yet to confirm whether it has treated any patients despite information from the NHS saying the site was being used for tests not involving Covid-19.

Construction of the 116-bed hospital in Sowton was completed in July. It was originally intended to ‘provide care for patients suffering from symptoms of coronavirus’.

However, a fall in numbers of cases meant the hospital is yet to be used for its original purpose, although the NHS has confirmed that it remains ‘on standby’ to treat patients with Covid-19.

It has also been used for ‘diagnostic testing for a range of conditions’ since July.

When a retrospective planning application for the site was approved in September, it was reported that the hospital had taken its first patients.

However, after being asked by DevonLive in the past couple of days if it was in use yet, a Nightingale Hospital Exeter spokesperson responded: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter remains on standby, ready to quickly step-up if needed based on expert clinical advice.

“Our status is under constant review, and when and if decisions are made we will update all of our stakeholders and communities.”

General care ward at NHS Nightingale Exeter

The NHS website says it was being used for a variety of diagnostic tests – but made no mention of treatment for patients.

These included CT scans, ultrasounds and echocardiography tests which are meant to ease pressures on other hospitals and GPs in the area.

The site has also been used to carry out part of a Covid-19 vaccine trial, as reported by DevonLive last month.

A Freedom of Information request (FoI) in August confirmed that no patients had been treated at the hospital.

Philippa Slinger, chief executive leading the development of Nightingale Exeter, said: “While it remains the case that the Nightingale Exeter isn’t needed for Covid patients, we will be using our CT scanner to help local GPs and hospitals provide people with safer and faster access to tests for a range of conditions, not just cancer.

“The hospital beds are specifically designed for people with Covid needs, and throughout this time the facility will remain ready to quickly revert to our primary purpose and receive patients with Covid, if the number of cases in the region rises significantly.”

It comes as another FoI revealed how much the site in Sowton cost to build.

The exact cost of the hospital – one of seven built across the country at the start of the coronavirus pandemic – was not initially revealed.

An FoI in July showed that the Government spent an estimated £220 million setting up England’s seven Nightingale hospitals, while running costs in April were revealed to be around £15 million.

Details of how much each individual site cost were withheld.

However, another FOI in August saw the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust state that it had cost them £19,807,000 to build the hospital, rising to £22,643,000 when ‘costs incurred by other organisations’ was taken into account.

The ‘monthly stand-by costs’ of the hospital were listed as £409,000.

Construction of the Exeter site on Moor Lane was announced in April and took two months to complete.

It was originally planned to be at Westpoint Arena and was scheduled to have 700 beds.

However, the location was changed as plans were scaled down to the current 36,000 sq ft site at a former retail unit.

Sunday saw the UK record another 18,662 coronavirus cases and 398 deaths.

The figure included 141 deaths which were omitted from Saturday’s Government figures in error, and brings the total number of deaths to 55,024.





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