Matt Hancock has insisted that the Nightingale hospitals – built to support the NHS during the coronavirus crisis – are not being dismantled, even as many lie empty.
With infections surging across the country, many hospitals are at breaking point – with several declaring a “major incident” over the last few days.
However the Nightingale hospitals – including the ExCel Centre in East London – remain on standby, with NHS figures suggesting that there are not enough doctors and nurses to staff them.
Asked on Sky News why the Nightingales aren’t being used, Hancock claimed that they “are there in case they’re needed”.
“The other thing we’ve done since the summer is that we’ve built more capacity within the NHS,” he said.
“We’ve physically built on additional critical care capacity and the best place to be treated if you’re a Covid patient is a hospital.
“But of course the Nightingales are there in case they’re needed.”
Watch the testy exchange here.
Related: As ambulances queue up with Covid patients Toby Young tweets fake pic of empty ICU beds
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