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Nurse leaders raise concerns over safe staffing of Nightingale hubs

Hubs to be built in hospital grounds, but RCN says workforce already overstretched 

Eight temporary hubs to be built in hospital grounds in case of spike in COVID-19 admissions, but RCN says workforce already overstretched and exhausted

Nursing leaders have expressed concerns about how eight new ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be staffed as 100 new beds were announced today to offer surge capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

NHS England said they are building temporary hubs in the grounds of eight hospital sites across the country to provide extra beds in preparation for a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.

Not possible to redeploy

Eight temporary hubs to be built in hospital grounds in case of spike in COVID-19 admissions, but RCN says workforce already overstretched and exhausted

Beds at Bristol Nightingale Hospital in 2020
Picture: Alamy

Nursing leaders have expressed concerns about how eight new ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be staffed as 100 new beds were announced today to offer surge capacity as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

NHS England said they are building temporary hubs in the grounds of eight hospital sites across the country to provide extra beds in preparation for a potential spike in COVID-19 cases.

Not possible to redeploy staff without affecting type of care given, says RCN

But the RCN warned there needs to be robust plans in place to safely staff the new hubs, which it said would place more pressure on an already overstretched and exhausted nursing workforce.

RCN director for England Patricia Marquis said: ‘Extra capacity is more than buildings, equipment and beds. Staff are already overstretched and in many areas struggling to provide the care needed to the current number of patients in hospitals, community and social care.

‘It is not possible just to redeploy staff to look after more patients without impacting the type of care that can be given.’

Opportunity to expand workforce to help NHS cope with COVID ‘squandered’

The concerns were echoed by Alison Leary, professor of healthcare and workforce modelling at London South Bank University, who tweeted that the opportunity to expand the nursing workforce to help the NHS cope with COVID-19 had been ‘squandered’.

Eight new Nightingale hubs will be set up in case of surge in admissions

The Nightingale hubs will be used for patients who are not fit for discharge from hospital, but need ‘minimal support’ as Omicron cases continue to rapidly increase, NHS England said in a statement.

The eight new hubs will be located at the:

  • Royal Preston Hospital in Lancashire.
  • Solihull Hospital in the West Midlands.
  • William Harvey Hospital in Kent.
  • Lister Hospital in Stevenage.
  • Leicester General Hospital.
  • St James’s University Hospital in Leeds.
  • St George’s Hospital in London.
  • Southmead Hospital in Bristol.

NHS England said that placing the new Nightingale facilities in hospital grounds would make it easier to ‘flex staff and equipment’ if there is a surge in admissions. They added that the hubs would be led by hospital consultants and nurses, and supported by other clinical and non-clinical staff brought in with rapid training to perform routine checks and other tasks.

NHS trusts have also been told to identify areas, such as gyms and education centres, that could be converted to accommodate patients and more Nightingale sites which could create up to 4,000 ‘super surge’ beds across the country.

NHS England did not respond to Nursing Standard’s request for a comment on whether the hubs would be staffed by existing workforce or agency staff.


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