When it was opened back in May 2020, Jersey was in the first wave of covid-19 cases, and medics were worried that the General Hospital might not be able to cope with the number of patients needing extra oxygen.
The Nightingale Wing was never used. The facility has cost more than £11m, and has stood as a monument to what islanders feared might happen. Now it is being taken down.
On Tuesday afternoon, ministers announced that the decision to "decommission the Nightingale Wing, was based on:
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Law showed that the Nightingale Wing cost £8,846,360 to set up and construct, and a further £1,910,886 in terms of running costs including building and equipment hire, utilities and site security, up to the end of December 2020.
Pictured: some of the 180 beds in the Nightingale.
The Government had forecast that the Wing may cost up to £18m in 2020, and a further £8m in 2021, but the actual costs have been below those numbers.
It was built at Milbrook, on land once owned by Jersey-born philanthropist Florence Boot.
After the first wave of the pandemic, the Government decided to extend the lease on the temporary structure, in case it was needed over the winter. Although case numbers spiked just before Christmas, the facility was never needed.
The 150m by 30m facility contained six wards, each with 30 beds.It also included areas for patient admissions and discharge, staff changing and rest facilities and a morgue, as well as a special wall filled with pictures of rainbows drawn and painted by islanders for staff to enjoy.
The construction process was managed by J3 - a local company linked with the McAlpine Group, which helped with the construction of Nightingale hospitals in Manchester and Glasgow - while a number of local contractors also donated their goods and services.
Pictured: the official opening on Monday 11th May.
It was officially opened via video link by the Earl and Countess of Wessex - the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie - on Monday 11 May.
Minister for Health and Social Security, Deputy Richard Renouf, said: “The Nightingale Wing offered us additional bed capacity and the knowledge that if we were to face severe numbers of COVID-19 in the Island, then we had the infrastructure in place to effectively look after our patients.
“Having now been through two waves of the pandemic, we have a much better understanding of how this virus works and the increased resilience, management. The support offered within the Jersey General Hospital and throughout the community has meant we no longer require the Nightingale Wing. Let us not be complacent though, we must continue to implement all necessary measures to reduce the risk of spread to Islanders and protect the wellbeing of our community.”
Jersey’s Chief Nurse, Rose Naylor, said: “Everyone involved in the delivery of health and social care throughout Jersey have handled this pandemic with amazing professionalism, dedication and care and we should acknowledge their role during this incredibly challenging time.
“The Nightingale Wing offered Jersey additional resilience at a time of great uncertainty for the Island and we recognise that we have come a long way in a year and learned a lot.
“Health care staff have worked together to ensure that the delivery of care has continued throughout the year and this has enabled us to manage effectively within the Hospital. We have also increased our oxygen supply in the General Hospital and, with the support of our partners, have been more efficient in managing the flow of patients. We are all very proud of all of our colleagues for the way they have managed this pandemic.”
Pictured: the site will now have to be returned to its former state.
The Government says that work will soon begin to clear the contents of the Nightingale, with some beds, furniture and other clinical equipment will be put into storage at a local warehouse.
Once the Nightingale is empty, and the structure dismantled, they say the land will be returned to the way it was before the construction.
Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Kevin Lewis, added: “The first job will be to carefully clear the contents of the Nightingale, and we want to make sure as much of it as possible is reused, recycled, sold or passed on to charities.
“Furniture such as the beds will be stored while we assess what future needs there might be. Once the site is stripped, the owners of the structure will come back to dismantle and remove the building, before we work to return the land to its previous state."
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