An NHS Nightingale hospital serving Cornwall and Devon is caring for its first patients four months after opening.

It is as hospitals see a high demand for urgent care involving patients not displaying Covid symptoms, in addition to those that need treating for the virus.

Earlier this year it was announced that Nightingale Hospital Exeter would "ensure resilience across the Devon, Cornwall and wider South West region."

NHS Devon said at the time: "Our new NHS Nightingale Hospital, which is expected to be ready for the first patients, if needed, by June, will provide a regional resource of 200 beds for Devon, Cornwall and neighbouring counties to meet the care needs for patients who are seriously unwell due to their coronavirus symptoms."

Now the Trust has said that on Thursday the hospital - which in fact has capacity for slightly fewer patients, with 116 beds - has welcomed its first patients.

This is despite coronavirus cases figures starting to fall over the last week, with Cornwall seeing well over a third fewer cases than a week ago.

Yesterday's update showed there had been 257 cases recorded in the seven days lead up to November 24 (data from the most recent five days is not shown due to being incomplete), representing a weekly rate of 44.9 cases per 100,000 people.

This is compared to the 407 cases recorded in the seven days leading up to November 17 and recorded on the previous Sunday, November 22, when there was a weekly rate of 71.2 cases per 100,000 people.


Dr Rob Dyer, strategic medical director for the Nightingale Hospital Exeter, said: “Since the beginning of July, the Nightingale Hospital Exeter has provided nearly 3,000 diagnostic tests to local people and has hosted the delivery of the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine study.

“These services have now stopped at the Nightingale facility to allow the hospital to care for patients with Covid-19. Diagnostic tests will continue to be available to those who need them through existing services and the Covid-19 vaccine trial has relocated to the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust.

“The number of Covid-19 cases in some local Trusts now exceeds the first wave of the pandemic, but unlike in the first wave, our hospitals are seeing a high demand for urgent care from non-Covid patients.

“This means that our hospitals continue to be very busy and we must balance providing care to patients with Covid-19 whilst also continuing to deliver services for our non-Covid patients.

"Opening the Nightingale Hospital Exeter helps us continue providing care to the patients who need our services across the region.”

Darryn Allcorn, strategic chief nurse for the Nightingale Hospital Exeter said the hospital was being staffed by health and care staff from across the region.

The hospital was created out of a former Homebase store in Exeter.