Harrogate's NHS Nightingale asked to be 'able to mobilise within a week' if required
Since it first opened after lockdown was announced in March, NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and the Humber has not, so far, been called on to treat patients, which is regarded by the authorities as a sign of success in the battle against the pandemic.
Earlier this month, NHS England's medical director announced Harrogate as one of three locations in the north of England where Nightingale hospitals were to be mobilised as UK infection rates rise.
On Wednesday, speaking at the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum meeting Amanda Bloor, accountable officer for North Yorkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, said the possibility of planned care in the county's hospitals in future having to be cancelled had to be taken seriously and dealt with.
As hospitals across Yorkshire get busier as infection rates rise, the three Nightingales were now on standby, she said, with Harrogate's Nightingale Hospital "asked to be able to mobilise within a week" if required.
The NHS Nightingale hospials have be asked to get ready to accept patients, either new Covid sufferers or people recovering from the virus,
partly to avoid the situation where the NHS would have to cancel non-urgent surgeries, as occurred during the first wave of coronavirus.
NHS England's medical director Prof Professor Steve Powis has previously said the Nightingale hospitals could be asked to offer "elective and diagnostic services" for other patients who do not have the virus.
There were hopes that Harrogate's 500-bed temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital and Yorkshire and the Humber located next to the Royal Hall might be released from its Covid duties to return to use as a conference centre to support the town's vital visitor economy.
But the Government has requested that the 500-bed Nightingale Hospital should be retained until at least March 31, 2021.
Based at Harrogate's Convention Centre, which is owned by the borough council, no events or exhibitions can be hosted while there is a Nightingale because of the amount of prominent space it takes up.
Harrogate Convention Centre, however, says it can't restart events or plan ahead while it's in use as a Nightingale because of its size.
Harrogate Borough Council says it is facing a £15million deficit as a result of the pandemic, most of which is lost income from the convention centre.
Local authorities in the Harrogate district and North Yorkshire are proud of the work by everyone which has meant out virus rates are still below the national average.
But the figures are still rising and the county council is keen to emphasise how important it is that everyone carries on following the rules or worse measures will follow.
Speaking at the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum meeting, Dr Lincoln Sargeant, North Yorkshire County Council's director of public health, warned the county has to "get the numbers down" to avoid the threat of more restrictions.
It was up to all of us, he added, to do the right thing, "to act now if we are to have a normal Christmas."
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