Covid: Dismantling of NHS Nightingale hospital at Harrogate Convention Centre begins
Work has begun to dismantle the NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and Humber - almost a year after it was built at a cost of more than £27m.
The temporary 500-bed site was set up at Harrogate Convention Centre in April last year to cope with a surge of coronavirus cases but it has not treated a single virus patient during the pandemic.
It was announced by the NHS earlier this month that the emergency hospital would close at the start of April and a spokesperson has now confirmed contractors have started removing medical equipment from the venue.
"The phased dismantling of NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber has begun," the spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
"The removal of some larger pieces of equipment will require road closures which will be advertised through the appropriate channels in due course."
The emergency hospital was one of seven built in England and although it did not treat a single coronavirus patient, it was used for non-virus diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments.
Earlier this month, the NHS described the network of Nightingale hospitals as the "ultimate insurance policy" as it announced each of the sites, apart from those in London and Sunderland which will stay open for vaccinations, will close next month.
Health officials also said it was a "success" that the Harrogate site was not needed but there are questions over how it would have been staffed, with councillors on the West Yorkshire Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee this week launching an investigation into why the facility was not used for Covid patients.
Councillor Jim Clark, the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, said there are "questions to be answered" and "lessons we can learn" around the Nightingale.
He told the health committee on Monday, he said: "We need to know how we would have staffed it, what capacity it would have been able to provide, where the staff would have come from and what effect that would have had on services within the rest of Yorkshire."
It remains unclear how long the dismantling of the hospital will take and how much it will cost.
However, Paula Lorimer, director of the council-owned convention centre, previously said she was "confident" it will be ready for events to return on 21 June when all restrictions on social distancing are due to be lifted.
She said: "All the team at the convention centre are proud of the contribution the venue has made to support the NHS in its fight against Covid-19 over the last 12 months."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter