'Mini Nightingales' could be set up at Norfolk hospitals for Omicron surge

File photo of a hospital ward

Health bosses are urging families, friends and carers to help speed up the discharge of patients from Norfolk's hospitals. - Credit: Peter Byrne / PA Wire

Norfolk hospitals could create temporary 'mini Nightingales' to increase their capacity to cope with an expected surge in local Omicron cases.

NHS England has told health bosses to consider preparing additional makeshift Covid wards inside hospitals, for use in the event of hospitalisations exceeding the peak of January 2021.

Seven 'Nightingale' pop-up hospitals were set up across England to cope with a feared surplus of Covid patients, but they were never used on a large scale - and none were established in the East of England. 

In preparation for the anticipated increase in Omicron cases, NHS England said that hospital canteens, car parks and meeting rooms could be used as 'mini Nightingales, caring for up to 100 of the least severely ill patients.

Experts have said Norfolk's Omicron cases are expected to peak in the third week of January.

A spokesman for Norfolk's hospitals said: “We have robust and well-rehearsed plans should we need to increase Covid capacity at our hospitals which involve using our existing hospital space to the maximum advantage in order to escalate our services.”

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