Yorkshire Nightingale Hospital 'will stay open until March'

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The exterior of the Nightingale Hospital in HarrogateImage source, NHS England/Simon Dewhurst
Image caption,
The hospital recently began offering outpatient radiology appointments for non-coronavirus patients

The NHS Nightingale hospital in Harrogate will stay open until at least next March, it has been announced.

Harrogate Borough Council, which owns the centre, said it would remain open to safeguard against another spike in coronavirus cases this winter.

The 500-bed field hospital opened at the North Yorkshire town's convention centre in April, but has not treated a single case.

A review will take place on 1 October to assess the need for the hospital.

The council has been in talks with the NHS for months over how much longer the site will be needed.

It was used for the first time last month when it opened outpatient radiology appointments for non-coronavirus patients.

The council faces a £9m deficit as a result of the pandemic, most of which is lost income from the convention centre.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) reported it had been planning for events to partially return this autumn, while remaining on standby as hospitals.

Image source, NHS England/Jude Media Agency
Image caption,
The construction of the hospital required more than 7m litres of oxygen

Harrogate Convention Centre, however, said it cannot restart events or plan ahead while it is in use as a Nightingale because of its size.

Centre director Paula Lorimer said: "The convention centre will continue in its role as a Nightingale hospital until 31 March but this will be reviewed on 1 October to assess if there is an ongoing need for the hospital.

"We are very proud to support the NHS and the response to Covid-19 but we continue to lobby government at every level for a post-Nightingale recovery plan for the venue, and the Harrogate district."

She added: "The events industry remains in lockdown until at least 1 October and, if there is a further rise in infections, it is unlikely we will be able to reopen anyway.

"I look forward to welcoming back our customers from the 1 April 2021 at the latest when Harrogate Convention Centre and the Royal Hall will reopen."

The NHS is not paying any rent for the site, but it is hoped the government will contribute towards a potential £47m renovation of the venue.

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