Royal Preston Nightingale Surge Hub: these are the patients who are in the pop-up facility

The Covid surge hub recently built at the Royal Preston Hospital is being used to house general patients who are fit to be discharged, but have not yet secured the support that they will need when they return home.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 7:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 8:42 pm

Some people who are awaiting places in care homes have also been given beds in the temporary “Nightingale” facility, which was initially intended to cope with a feared spike in admissions as a result of the emergence of the Omicron variant.

However, when it opened late last month on the site of one of the Royal Preston’s main car parks, bosses at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTH) revealed that it would actually be accommodating “low acuity” patients who were in hospital for non-Covid reasons. They said at the time that “clear criteria” had been devised to determine who would be admitted to the pop-up unit.

Now, the trust has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service exactly the type of patient who is in the hub - and how it is assisting in the wider operation of the hospital.

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Part of the Nightingale Surge Hub pictured at the Royal Preston Hospital shortly before it opened

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An LTH spokesperson said: “The patients admitted to the Nightingale Surge Hub are those who no longer need acute care and are typically waiting for support packages to allow them to go back home or to another more appropriate care setting.

“This additional capacity is therefore helping the wider system to manage discharges more effectively and has also provided additional resilience to help de-escalate pressures, particularly in our emergency departments, at an exceptionally busy time.

“The extra beds are also helping us to free up room elsewhere within our hospitals, giving us the opportunity to better focus our efforts on elective recovery and to begin to reduce the long-waits that some of our patients will have experienced which have been exacerbated by the pandemic,” added the spokesperson, who was unable to confirm how many patients have so far passed through the hub, which was designed to support the NHS across the North West.

The facility was one of eight built nationwide in response to the Omicron threat - at a total cost of £10.6m - but it was reported last week that Preston’s was the only one currently in use.

A recent meeting of Lancashire County Council’s cabinet heard that homecare services had been placed under particular pressure in the wake of the pandemic, because more people were opting to receive support under their own roof rather than go into a care setting.

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