Covid: Dismantling of Yorkshire's Nightingale Hospital starts

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The exterior of the Nightingale Hospital in HarrogateImage source, NHS England/Simon Dewhurst
Image caption,
The Nightingale hospital in Harrogate will revert to its original use as a convention centre

Work has begun to dismantle Yorkshire's 500-bed Nightingale Hospital which has not treated a single Covid-19 patient.

The emergency unit was set up at Harrogate's Convention Centre last April at a cost of more than £27m.

It was one of seven built in England to try and prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed during the pandemic.

An NHS spokesperson said contractors had started removing medical equipment and some larger equipment would require road closures.

It remains unclear how long the dismantling of the hospital will take and how much it will cost, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Paula Lorimer, director of the council-owned convention centre, previously said she was "confident" it would be ready for events to return on 21 June when all restrictions on social distancing are due to be lifted.

Image source, PA Media/Danny Lawson
Image caption,
Captain Sir Tom Moore opened the hospital in April 2020

Health officials said the fact the Harrogate site had not been needed for Covid patients was a "success" and it had been used for non-virus diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments.

However, an investigation into why the facility treated no Covid patients has been started by councillors on the West Yorkshire Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Jim Clark, the chairman of North Yorkshire County Council, told the committee: "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."

Earlier this month, the NHS described the network of Nightingale hospitals as the "ultimate insurance policy" as it announced the planned closure of each of the sites, apart from those in London and Sunderland which will stay open for vaccinations.

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