Nightingale Hospital to be used for eye care
- Credit: PA
Bristol’s pop-up coronavirus hospital could be used to treat 250 eye patients a day under plans by health chiefs.
The dormant Nightingale Hospital has not been needed since it was built in just three weeks at the University of the West of England’s Frenchay Campus earlier this year, to cope with a potential surge in cases at the height of the pandemic.
It was geared up to provide 300 intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients from the Severn critical care network as an overspill for the region’s existing hospitals from Gloucester to Yeovil and Taunton to Swindon.
But it was never used and went into standby mode on June 30, although UWE revealed last week that the Nightingale was getting ‘winter ready’ ahead of an expected second wave of coronavirus.
Now it has emerged that University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust (UHBW) is planning to use part of it as additional capacity for Bristol Eye Hospital, which had to significantly reduce its space because of social distancing rules and devote beds for Covid-19 cases.
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A report to the trust’s board, which met remotely on September 29, said the £2million proposals would see part of the field hospital become an ophthalmology ‘diagnostic hub’.
UHBW director of strategy and transformation Paula Clarke told the meeting: “We are very actively in discussions with a number of services, including the eye hospital and paediatrics, to establish if we can make really good use of the facility in the interim with the assurance that it could be stood down if we needed to trigger reopening the Nightingale for critical care.”
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The report to members said: “The hub would provide diagnostic imaging services for glaucoma, cornea, and medical retina patients.
“The use of the Nightingale Hospital Bristol would enable the review of thousands of patients in a socially distanced manner.”
It said the eye hospital’s A&E was expanded at the start of the pandemic to care for coronavirus patients.
“The expansion was made possible by the use of part of the outpatient facilities on the ground floor of the Bristol Eye Hospital,” the report said.
“This has reduced the available capacity for outpatient activity.”
Other plans to cope with the smaller number of patients it can currently cope with include opening an outpatient site at the Galleries Shopping Centre in Broadmead, although this is in the early stages of development, the report added.
The Nightingale opened in April after a huge team of construction workers, university staff, NHS and Army personnel helped to transform the UWE conference centre in just 20 days.
Bristol was one of several locations where Nightingale hospitals were set up, although most were not used.
North Bristol NHS Trust was in charge of running it.