Research has shown that far fewer patients require ventilators than was previously thought, but the London Nightingale is designed for patients who have already been put on ventilators and require ongoing critical care.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, a specialist registrar in anaesthetics who chairs the Doctors’ Association, said: “Ministers appear to have been sitting on their hands and not learning the lessons from the first wave.
“You tend to have more patients that are not intubated and ventilated than are using other therapies. From a staffing point of view, it would also make sense to have it as a step down facility so you’re not then required to staff it with intensive care doctors and nurses who are already in short supply.”
Nicki Credland, who chairs the British Association of Critical Care Nurses, said: “What we have learned now is that patients, certainly from an intensive care point of view, are better off being looked after in proper hospitals.
“Therefore, there needs to be a conversation and a configuration of the Nightingales to potentially look at other ways of being able to support the NHS, with the big caveat that you still have to be able to staff them.”
In early April, the Health Service Journal disclosed that many critical care doctors and leaders of acute NHS trusts were concerned that the intensive care model in London was less useful than the step-down facilities provided in Birmingham and Manchester.