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Nightingale 'surge hub' at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford is taken down

Kent's Nightingale 'surge hub' - which has never been used - has now been dismantled.

The facility, which cost £3.7 million to build, was erected in Ashford's William Harvey Hospital's main car park to provide extra capacity for patients with Covid-19.

Work has now begun to dismantle the Nightingale hub in Ashford
Work has now begun to dismantle the Nightingale hub in Ashford

Last month, just weeks after its completion, it was revealed the centre would come down.

Pictures taken this morning show workers on site, with much of the building already taken down.

An NHS Kent and Medway spokesman said: "Nightingale hubs were created to provide additional capacity for local services in the event they came under very intense pressure linked to the Omicron variant.

"Preparing super surge units was the right thing to do; but thankfully the unit at William Harvey Hospital has not been needed.

"NHS England has confirmed the structure will be removed by March 31; in line with units in other parts of the country that have also not been needed."

The centre had cost more than £3m
The centre had cost more than £3m
The Nightingale unit, as it looked in January
The Nightingale unit, as it looked in January

The facility was designed to treat up to 100 people with Covid-19 if the demand for hospital beds outweighed capacity during the Omicron wave over Christmas and New Year.

Ashford MP Damian Green previously said: “This was an insurance policy that turned out not to be necessary.

"I don’t agree that this means it should never have been done, as if it hadn’t been built, and the hospital had been overwhelmed by Omicron, people would rightly be demanding why no resilience had been built in.

"The task now is to remove it as soon as possible, so that parking can get back to normal.”

Last month, East Kent Hospitals Trust (EKHT) was told the ward, which was one of eight surge hubs across the country, was unlikely to be required as the programme moved into a 'slow down' phase.

Papers put before the board acknowledged that even if the ward had been required, issues with building regulations, IT, and a lack of staff could have hampered its deployment.

Its presence has caused disruption to the operation of the hospital, with staff being shuttled to and from the Julie Rose Stadium on minibuses amid a shortage of parking spaces at the Kennington Road site.

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