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The NHS Nightingale hospitals are to be decommissioned at the end of April, NHS England has confirmed.

Five of the seven Nightingale hospitals were constructed at prominent event venues, including ExCeL London (pictured), the NEC, Manchester Central, Harrogate Convention Centre, and UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre.

The field hospitals were built to provide extra capacity for patients needing critical care, but insufficient numbers of medical staff meant they were not used.

ExCeL London was the largest Nightingale and built in nine days, with 4,000 beds available. It was reported that only 20 patients were treated on site.

The venues will be restored as event centres ahead of the planned reopening of the sector. From 17 May, restricted capacity events of up to 1,000 people can take place indoors, while a full lifting of restrictions is expected no earlier than 21 June.

Pilot events are expected to run from 12 April to help provide data on whether or not mitigation measures, such as pre-event Covid testing, need to be considered.

An NHS spokesperson said that existing hospitals were able to adapt to increase critical care capacity. They added: “[The Nightingale] hospitals had been on hand as the ultimate insurance policy in case existing hospital capacity was overwhelmed.”

The first major exhibition expected to run at ExCeL London is International Confex, 22-23 June, a day after the restrictions are expected to be lifted.