This week marks the first anniversary of Exeter's NHS Nightingale Hospital officially opening although it was not until four months later its first Covid inpatient was admitted. Although areas have seen their Nightingale hospitals disappear, Exeter is one of only three areas to have retained ones because it is instead being used as a new long-term service to support routine care in the community.
This week marks the first anniversary of Exeter's NHS Nightingale Hospital officially opening although it was not until four months later its first Covid inpatient was admitted.
Although areas have seen their Nightingale hospitals disappear, Exeter is one of only three areas to have retained ones because it is instead being used as a new long-term service to support routine care in the community.
It has been confirmed that planning is underway for the £23million 116-bed hospital in Exeter, built on the former Homebase site in Sowton Industrial Estate, to offer orthopaedic, ophthalmology, and rheumatology services to help reduce its huge waiting list backlog.
It is currently hosting a range of diagnostic services, supporting the delivery of a Covid-19 vaccine booster study, and hosting overseas nurse training.
Exeter's Nightingale opened on July 6, 2020 and is run by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E).
Due to low numbers of coronavirus in the region it was instead utilised for diagnostic testing, in particular cancer, as well as reducing hospital backlogs in the area, and for training overseas nurses.
Between November 2020 and March 2021, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter cared for nearly 250 patients from across Devon, Somerset and Dorset.
Its largest number of patients peaked at 60 on January 30, and February 1.
The hospital was staffed by health and care staff from across the region, volunteers, and military personnel.
Its last Covid-19 patient was discharged on February 26, and the facility then resumed diagnostic testing again.
Out of the seven Nightingale hospitals that were set up in England in spring 2020 to help the NHS cope with a surge in coronavirus cases, four closed for good in April. The three remaining Nightingales - Exeter, London, and Sunderland - were kept either as extra NHS capacity for routine work or as Covid vaccine centres.
A spokesperson for the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter said: “Over the last year, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter has been an invaluable resource, supporting care across the Devon and wider Southwest community.
“As well as caring for nearly 250 patients with Covid-19 from across three counties in the height of the pandemic, the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter has also provided over 6,000 important diagnostic tests to local people, supported the delivery of two Covid-19 vaccine studies, and hosted overseas nurse training for three local NHS Trusts.
“The NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter will now be used to further reduce waiting times for certain operations.
"As well as continuing to provide diagnostic services, planning is underway for the Nightingale Exeter to host orthopaedic, ophthalmology, and rheumatology services. We are delighted that we can continue the hospital’s legacy and further support care across our region.
“I’d like to thank every single person who’s played a part in our Nightingale – from the thousands of people who converted the former retail site into a fully functioning hospital in just eight weeks, to the hundreds of staff, volunteers and military personnel who have provided care here - and in other local NHS organisations - over the last year.”