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Latest 03 November 2023

Two-thirds of beds bought for Nightingale hospitals were unfit for use

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Millions have been wasted on sub-standard beds bought during the pandemic for the Government’s seven Nightingale hospitals, our latest investigation with the Daily Mirror has revealed.

During the pandemic, 9,000 beds and mattresses were bought – at a cost to the NHS of £24m – for Nightingale hospitals which lay largely empty. After months of investigations, we can now reveal that 6,000 of these beds were not fit for clinical use, and have been sold at auction for only £410,000.

Since August, we have been working with the Daily Mirror to find out what happened to these specialist beds. In some cases, beds bought for thousands of pounds were being flogged for as little as £6 each.

The NHS previously told the Mirror that “There was a small number of beds that was specifically tailored for the Nightingale that could not be repurposed and they have been sold to private sellers to recover costs for the taxpayer”.

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But this doesn’t tally with the new data we have obtained.

We have been hearing shocking evidence from the Covid Inquiry about the failure of Boris Johnson and his ministers to prepare for the first wave of the pandemic. After a decade of crippling austerity, the NHS was forced to scramble for capacity, resources and staff to fill seven new Nightingale hospitals.

In the end, these hospitals were barely used. According to the latest official figures, setting up, running and then decommissioning all seven Nightingale units in England has cost the public purse more than £530m.

According to Jo Maugham, Good Law Project’s Executive Director, “the evidence shows we bought the wrong stuff from the wrong people at the wrong prices and for the wrong reasons. And we did it time and time and time again.

“Where are the Ministers, who should be apologising for this appalling waste of public money? And why is there so little interest in trying to recover it, for the NHS and for schools?”

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