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Staff at the NHS Nightingale hospital in London have successfully treated and discharged their first coronavirus patients.
A father of one, in his fifties, Simon Chung, who is recovering from Covid-19 after expert care on a ventilator, will now be transferred for ‘step-down’ care at Northwick Park hospital in Harrow to continue his recovery.
A second man has also been discharged.
NHS Nightingale London was established in less than a fortnight on the site of the Excel centre in London’s Docklands, as part of extra back-up capacity for the NHS to treat coronavirus patients if it is needed.
Currently NHS critical care capacity in London is holding up well, with existing hospitals managing despite the significant increase in demand for care.
The London Nightingale is one of a network of seven sites providing surge capacity across England as the health service responds to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century.
NHS trusts have already freed up more than 33,000 beds, the equivalent of 50 new hospitals.
These successful measures mean hospitals still have staff, beds and equipment available to deal with Covid-19, but the Nightingales provide an extra reserve of capacity if required.
Yesterday NHS England announced that Captain Tom Moore will be the guest of honour at the opening of a new Nightingale in Harrogate on Tuesday.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “It is great news that the first patients have been discharged after successful treatment from world-leading NHS staff.
“The Nightingale London may have been built in a matter of days in response to this unprecedented global health emergency but there are excellent facilities and, of course, the staff working there are every bit as skilled and dedicated as those caring for patients at other NHS hospitals.
“We have not yet had to make extensive use of the Nightingale London thanks to the hard work of NHS staff – who have freed up more than 30,000 existing hospital beds – and the public, who have played their part by staying at home and saving lives.
“It will count as a huge success for the whole country if we never need to use them but with further waves of coronavirus possible it is important that we have these extra facilities in place and treating patients.”
Eamonn Sullivan, Nursing Director at NHS Nightingale London said: “This is wonderful news and testament to all the clinicians and support staff who have been working around the clock to care for our patients.
“Although these two patients being discharged today are now out of danger, their long road to recovery is a reminder of why everyone needs to do what they can to stay safe by following the government’s advice.”
Professor Charles Knight, Chief Executive of NHS Nightingale London, said: “NHS Nightingale Hospital London is here to be called on when we’re needed, to alleviate the pressure on all London Trusts during the Covid-19 outbreak by taking patients who need ongoing critical care as part of a network of critical care services across our capital.”
The current network of announced Nightingale sites includes seven planned locations: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate, Bristol, Exeter, and Sunderland. The London site is overseen by Barts Health NHS Trust.
The London, Birmingham and Manchester sites are ready to take patients, with the site in Harrogate set to open on Tuesday, with Captain Tom Moore – the 99 year old veteran who has raised more than £23 million for NHS charities – as a Guest of Honour appearing via video link.