Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today announced £3billion to maintain the country’s seven Nightingale hospitals until the end of March as part of a number of measures to make sure the NHS is ready for winter.
Harrogate Borough Council – which owns the convention centre where the region’s Nightingale hospital was built – said it is still in talks with NHS bosses over how much longer it will be needed.
It comes as a contract between the council and NHS England for the venue’s use will expire on 31 July, but it has yet to be announced if it will be extended.
The temporary hospital, which was built within weeks and has a 500-bed capacity, has not treated a single coronavirus patient since opening at the peak of the virus outbreak in April.
It was used for the first time last month when it opened outpatient radiology appointments for non-coronavirus patients.
A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said: “The Prime Minister has confirmed that money has been set aside to keep the Nightingale hospitals available until 2021.
“We continue our discussions with NHS Yorkshire and Humber about what role Harrogate Convention Centre will play, but nothing has yet been decided.”
It comes as the council is facing a £9million deficit as a result of the pandemic, most of which is lost income from the convention centre.
Since construction began in late March, and until the end of July, the NHS is not paying any rent to the convention centre or the council.
Council leader Richard Cooper previously said he hoped the venue will be turned back over to business “as soon as possible”.
NHS England has been contacted for a comment.
Speaking at a Downing Street press conference earlier this week, Boris Johnson said the government has increased the number of ventilators to nearly 30,000 and added it will be “rolling out the biggest ever flu vaccination programme” in preparation for winter.
“We are making sure we are ready for winter and planning for the worst,” he said. “But I strongly believe we should also hope for the best.”