Concerns over nurse staffing as Nightingale hospitals placed on standby

There are now more patients in hospital with COVID-19 than during lockdown in March. 

Ian Snug
13 October 2020
NHS Nightingale

There are around 43,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone.

Nightingale hospitals across the country have been placed on standby as Coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket.


The news comes after a briefing at Downing Street yesterday in which England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer confirmed that more patients are in hospital now than during lockdown in March.

Cases are rising fastest in the North West and North East regions of England with Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust having more than 250 patients who have tested positive with Covid-19.

In a statement on social media, Matt Hancock confirmed the news; “We have placed NHS Nightingale hospitals in Harrogate, Manchester & Sunderland on standby. Let’s get Covid under control & save lives.”

Staff must be trained and supported.

The Royal College of Nursing has warned that while the hospital may relieve pressure on wards and intensive care departments they will also increase the demand for staff.


Susan Masters, Director of Nursing, Policy and Public Affairs at the Royal College of Nursing, warned; “Readying Nightingale Hospitals may relieve some of the pressure on wards and intensive care units, but it will increase the demands for staff.

“If nurses are to be deployed away from their usual jobs into frontline positions, such as ICU, they should not be put into roles that are outside their skills and competencies. They must be given the right support and training for the role they’re being sent into.

“The Government must ensure that there are enough nursing staff with the right training in specialist equipment such as ventilators to provide the level of critical care needed by patients who will be treated there.”

Hospitals need staff.

With official figures suggesting there are around 43,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS in England alone – concerns have been raised about how the hospitals will be staffed.


Nurses United UK have accused the government of gaslighting the profession.

Anthony Johnson, lead organisor for the grassroots group Nurses United UK, added; “We all know that there are 100,000 vacancies within our NHS.

“Why do we allow politicians to gaslight us into thinking that we can just put some prefabricated units together and call it a hospital?

“To have a hospital you need staff. We need our Nurses. But this Government is not interested in that, they’d rather shout, “look at the shiny shiny” and then give themselves a £3,000 pay rise while we get claps.

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