Sunderland scheme at empty industrial unit was opened yesterday

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Gateshead contractor Tolent has completed work on a 460-bed NHS Nightingale Hospital in Sunderland.

The scheme at an empty industrial unit in Washington could become a rehabilitation centre for coronavirus patients, the chief executive of the NHS said at yesterday’s opening ceremony.

Sir Simon Stevens added: “There’s no doubt, whether it is for coronavirus patients, or convalescence or rehabilitation or other types of patients, it makes complete sense to have this reserve capacity that the Nightingale Hospitals represent.”

And health secretary Matt Hancock added: “We all hope that these extra beds will not all have to be used but I know this facility [was built] in a way that means [we] can adapt the hospital to changing clinical needs as work through the emergency and into the recovery phase continues.”

Similar hospitals, including those at London and Birmingham, are being put on standby because not enough patients have used them.

The Sunderland hospital was completed in just over three weeks and at peak there was around 240 employees working 24 hour shifts to build the facility which includes 32 wards, a pharmacy and staff welfare areas.

Tolent chief executive Andy McLeod said: “The dedication shown by all on site to deliver this project really captures the spirit of the region to come together and deliver when we need to.”

A host of subcontractors worked on the job including M&E firm Geoffrey Robinson, Kenmor Ceilings and Partitions, ceilings firm High Level Contracts, joinery firm Wood-Tech, Alderclad, North East Civils, Newcastle Flooring, Proctor Flooring, Trojan Scaffold, Singelton Metalworks, Nixon Hire and Wingate Electrical.

The facility will be operated by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.