Matt Hancock insisted the Nightingale Hospitals built as emergency support to NHS hospitals at the height of the coronavirus pandemic had not been “dismantled but remain on standby.” The rebuttal came after equipment, including beds and ventilators, were removed from the London site at the ExCel Centre in East London. Sky News host Gillian Jacobs said: “Many will be asking about the Nightingale hospitals and why they aren’t being utilised.
“They were built at great expense, millions of pounds spent on them, they’ve hardly been used. And now we’re being told they’re being dismantled.”
The Health Secretary immediately hit back: “They’re not being dismantled, they’re on standby. They are there in case they’re needed.
“The other thing we’ve done since the summer is that we’ve built more capacity within the NHS.
“We’ve physically built on additional critical care capacity and the best place to be treated if you’re a Covid patient is a hospital.
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“But of course the Nightingales are there in case they’re needed.”
Tne comments had Ms Jacobs ask: “Forgive me but the medics are telling us that the Nightingales might be there but there’s simply no staff to run them. They seem to be white elephants.”
Mr Hancock immediately said “that is not true”, to which the Sky News presenter replied: “So the doctors…what the doctors are telling us isn’t true?
The Conservative frontbencher said: “Well, I’m telling you what the doctors who actually run these things are saying.
“And, of course, they’re there but the thing we are all working on is supporting the NHS to look after patients in hospital.
“And then to have the Nightingales as back up should that hospital space fill up completely. But the best place to make sure we treat patients is hospitals where they have everything on sight.”