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MP Craig Mackinlay questions whether 'Nightingale medical hub' to look after Covid patients is needed at William Harvey Hospital in Ashford


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A Kent MP has questioned whether a 'Nightingale medical hub’ to cope with patients with Covid will be needed despite escalating numbers contracting the virus.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said that while it was good planning to provide additional facilities, he doubted that a temporary centre at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford would be needed.

Work has started on Nightingale surge hub at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford
Work has started on Nightingale surge hub at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford

He said the rate of hospital admissions might mean the hub would not be required.

He added: “The rate of admissions is thankfully low; the number of people getting the infection is very, very high - the numbers are close to 200,000 nationally - but they don't seem to be converted into serious illness; hospital admissions and death, which is the key matrix we should be keeping an eye on.”

“I think it is always sensible to keep patients who are not especially unwell away from the main hospital site; that should have been in my view addressed more closely in the first wave, where it was more serious.

Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (54153796)
Craig Mackinlay - UK Parliament official portraits 2017. (54153796)

"I support it (the hub) and it is good planning but I don't actually think it will be needed.”

Work on setting up the centre - one of eight being created across the country - began last week and is designed to minimise the risk of the virus being transmitted by patients.

They are together expected to create an extra 4,000 beds - and have been modelled on the large-scale centre created in London, dubbed the Nightingale Hospital.

Work has already started on Nightingale surge hub at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford
Work has already started on Nightingale surge hub at William Harvey Hospital, Ashford

Speaking on KMTV’s ‘Paul On Politics’ show, the MP, a member of the Conservative backbench Covid Recovery Group, said that while he supported the restrictions imposed under ‘Plan B’ the country could not afford to have lockdowns as and when the Covid virus took hold.

He added: “We cannot forget that lockdowns cost the economy a fortune; it will cost people’s livelihoods; there is the fear of other conditions not being treated because people are fearful and stay away; the numbers per 100,000, which is what we normally look at, is lower in England and other places.

“We should be looking at France and the United States who have cut the isolation period down to five days.”

The MP said there needed to be a wider debate on how to deal with future pandemics.

He added: "Are we going to go down the same rabbit hole every year, closing this and stopping that, closing schools…Or do we say we have to step back a bit and say this is the new world. "Otherwise we will not have the economy working and the taxes needed.”

Green county councillor Mark Hood. Stock picture
Green county councillor Mark Hood. Stock picture

Meanwhile, Green county councillor Mark Hood said while nobody wanted lockdowns, the government had to follow the data. Speaking on the same programme, he said: “The idea that we never go into lockdown whatever the infection rates are doesn’t make much sense to me.

"We don't know what is going to happen in the future; if we had a more virulent strain, we may have to go back into lockdown. Nobody wants that; it is the last resort.”

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