Hospital canteens and car parks will be converted into ‘Nightingale wards’ as part of a new NHS ‘war footing’ for the Omicron wave.

Eight hospitals in England will this week start building temporary structures to house up to 100 Covid patients each. 

They will be equipped with beds and machines for patients who need treatment after intensive care.

Meanwhile hospitals are being urged to discharge as many patients as possible into hotels, hospices and care homes to make space for the expected surge of Covid admissions.

Hospital canteens and car parks will be converted into 'Nightingale wards' as part of a new NHS 'war footing' for the Omicron wave. Eight hospitals in England will this week start building temporary structures to house up to 100 Covid patients each. (File image)

Hospital canteens and car parks will be converted into 'Nightingale wards' as part of a new NHS 'war footing' for the Omicron wave. Eight hospitals in England will this week start building temporary structures to house up to 100 Covid patients each. (File image)

Hospital canteens and car parks will be converted into ‘Nightingale wards’ as part of a new NHS ‘war footing’ for the Omicron wave. Eight hospitals in England will this week start building temporary structures to house up to 100 Covid patients each. (File image)

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis (pictured) said: 'Given the high level of Covid-19 infections, the NHS is now on a war footing. We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales and I hope we never have to use these new hubs'

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis (pictured) said: 'Given the high level of Covid-19 infections, the NHS is now on a war footing. We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales and I hope we never have to use these new hubs'

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis (pictured) said: ‘Given the high level of Covid-19 infections, the NHS is now on a war footing. We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales and I hope we never have to use these new hubs’

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: ‘Given the high level of Covid-19 infections, the NHS is now on a war footing.’

He added: ‘We do not yet know exactly how many of those who catch the virus will need hospital treatment, but given the number of infections we cannot wait to find out before we act and so work is beginning from today to ensure these facilities are in place.

‘We hoped never to have to use the original Nightingales and I hope we never have to use these new hubs.’

In contrast to the first wave - when facilities such as London's ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals - the 'Nightingale hubs' will be situated on existing hospital grounds. (Above, the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in April 2020)

In contrast to the first wave - when facilities such as London's ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals - the 'Nightingale hubs' will be situated on existing hospital grounds. (Above, the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in April 2020)

In contrast to the first wave – when facilities such as London’s ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals – the ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be situated on existing hospital grounds. (Above, the then Health Secretary Matt Hancock at the opening of the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in April 2020)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘We hope the Nightingale surge hubs at hospitals will not have to be used but it is absolutely right that we prepare for all scenarios and increase capacity.’

In contrast to the first wave – when facilities such as London’s ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals – the ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be situated on existing hospital grounds.

Health chiefs said this will make it easy to deploy staff if there is a surge in admissions over the coming weeks that outstrips current capacity.

NHS Trusts have also been asked to identify areas such as gyms and classrooms that can be converted to temporary Covid wards.

They said this could create an additional 4,000 ‘super surge’ beds across the country – eight times the capacity of a large district hospital, which has around 500 beds.

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