Health bosses today warned that staffing temporary “Nightingale” wards in carparks will pose a major challenge. 

The NHS Chiefs announced last night that 8 hospitals across England would begin construction of makeshift structures in order to host up to 100 Covid Patients each.

The overspill sites — which could also be erected in canteens and gyms if needed in the coming weeks — will be equipped with beds and machines for patients who still need minor treatment.

This drive is part of an NHS “war footing” to combat the Omicron wave that has been putting pressure on hospitals.  

However, there are still questions about how these units will be managed. 

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers — which represents hospital trusts — said staffing the makeshift wards posed a ‘major challenge’.

He said, however that having facilities at existing hospitals’maximizes the NHS’s capability to meet that challenge.

Pat Cullen from the Royal College of Nursing warned that this would lead to a decrease in nursing staff. She claimed that she did not know the staffing requirements for hubs. 

The above shows where England's eight new 'mini-Nightingales' will be set up. These will aim to treat 100 Covid patients following a stay in intensive care, and will be on hospital sites to ensure they can be properly manned. Previous Nightingales could not get enough nurses

This image shows the location of England’s 8 new mini-Nightingales. After a hospital stay, these will take care of 100 Covid patients. They’ll be stationed at hospitals to make sure they are properly staffed. The previous Nightingales couldn’t get enough nurses

A row erupted over the Government’s Covid figures as it emerged almost one in three in hospital with the virus was admitted for unrelated reasons. Pictured: Boris Johnson visiting a Covid vaccination centre in Milton Keynes on Wednesday

Unrelated issues led to a row over Government Covid numbers. Nearly one third of those hospitalized with the virus were admitted due to it. Pictured: Boris Johnson visited a Covid vaccination center in Milton Keynes Wednesday

According to the Health Service Journal trade website, there are plans for additional’mini-Nightingales’ before Christmas. Although the request had not been made, it stated that medical personnel from the army could be called to assist.

Nightingale hospitals are staffed with consultants and nurses as well as non-clinical and clinical staff. 

Although it is unclear whether soldiers would be included, MailOnline sources informed MailOnline that Army personnel are always available to fill in for the Army when necessary. 

Row explodes when data shows that a third Covid patient are admitted to hospital because of reasons other than the virus

As it became clear that almost three out of every three people infected by the virus were admitted to hospital for non-related reasons, there was a row.

NHS statistics revealed the proportion of so-called ‘incidental’ coronavirus admissions had risen to a record 29 per cent – sparking claims that official figures were misleading.

These are cases of patients who have been admitted for unrelated reasons, like a fracture or fall, and then later find out they have the virus.

It means thousands of those who are being counted as Covid admissions – which would suggest they are severely ill with the condition – are not actually suffering seriously with the virus.

Many only tested positive once they were on wards – and may have simply caught the virus while there.

It has raised concerns that the headline statistics – which drive Government decisions on restrictions and lockdowns – are overestimating how many people are dangerously sick with Covid.

The ‘mini-Nightingales’ will be scattered around the country, with sites based in London, Bristol, Leeds, Kent and Leicester among others. 

In contrast to the first wave — when facilities such as London’s ExCel centre were converted into giant hospitals — the ‘Nightingale hubs’ will be situated on existing hospital grounds.

According to health chiefs, this will allow them to quickly deploy personnel if they experience an increase in admissions that exceeds their current capacity.

NHS Trusts are also being asked to help identify potential areas like gyms and classrooms which could be used as temporary Covid wards.

They said this could create an additional 4,000 ‘super surge’ beds across the country — eight times the capacity of a large district hospital, which has around 500 beds. 

Hopson explained that, “Building upon lessons learned from the earlier pandemics,” trusts identified additional capacity on hospital sites and could turn it into super-suppress capacity should they be needed.

“Trust leaders are hopeful that this backup insurance policy won’t be necessary, just like with the Nightingales. It must not be regrettable that these plans were made.

Given the pressures placed on the NHS, and the level of staff absences at the moment, this would make it a difficult task to fill the capacity.

The NHS is able to overcome this problem by co-locating on existing sites of hospitals.

He also stated that he recognized the fact that it would add to an already stretched NHS.

General secretary of RCN Ms Cullen warned that not enough people were available to support the additional units today.

Sky News was informed by her that she could set up any number of hubs as you like.

“But, if there aren’t enough nurses to care for those patients who will be placed at these hubs then that creates more problems for the nursing workforce.

“The nursing staff is already struggling to provide care for patients in hospitals. If we create hubs or put up more beds, it will increase the pressure on these nurses.

“So at the moment, we don’t know how we will staff those extra hubs once they are set up.”

Data suggests that the NHS had a shortage of as many as 100,000 doctors before the pandemic. 

This comes as a result of warnings by health officials that staff absences are more dangerous than increasing admissions from the virus.

On December 19, 18,829 NHS staff became ill due to the coronavirus, up from 12,240 one week earlier.

Covid-related absences tripled at London’s largest trust in one week, which is the root of the problem England will face over the next weeks.

The admissions are also increasing. Christmas Day saw 1281 patients infected with HIV placed on wards. This was an increase of 74% in one week, the highest since February.

The Doctors’ Association’s Dr David Nicholl earlier this week listed the increasing number of absentees as their biggest concern for the next weeks.

Yesterday’s increase in Covid patients was the largest since March, when it surpassed 10,000.

According to NHS statistics, however, up to 33% of virus-infected patients admitted to wards for unrelated reasons (e.g. a fall or fracture).

It means thousands of those who are being counted as Covid admissions – which would suggest they are severely ill with the condition – are not actually suffering seriously with the virus.