A public inquiry into Yorkshire’s £32m Nightingale hospital has revealed that we must be better prepared for future pandemics, with an urgent review into critical care capacity requested.
The West Yorkshire Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee launched the inquiry into the 500-bed Nightingale hospital which was housed at Harrogate Convention Centre after concerns over how it wasn't used to treat any COVID patients.
The conclusion of the inquiry showed there was insufficient critical care capacity in our NHS hospitals, which led to the need for seven Nightingale hospitals to be built.
The report read:
“The country needs to learn from this experience to plan for future pandemics,” .
“Although we learnt that staffing the Nightingale hospital would have only required 0.6% of the NHS hospital workforce across Yorkshire and the Humber, this only worked when nearly all elective hospital work had been suspended.
“This still feels like it would have been very tight and put significant pressure on certain key professions.”
The Yorkshire Nightingale hospital opened in April 2020 during the first COVID wave, but was dismantled nearly a year later with an overall cost of £31.6m.
The report revealed £17m was spent on building and dismantling works for the Yorkshire Nightingale, with £10.4m spent on running costs and £4.1m on equipment. Additionally, £1.1m was spent on security and £500k on cleaning and food.
The Convention Centre, owned by Harrogate Borough Council, charged £4.2m for staffing, utilities, and business rates.
The committee has requested its finding to be presented to a full public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic set to be launched later this year.
Praise was also given to the staff involved in setting up and running the hospital, including NHS workers, council staff, contractors and volunteers.