WOKINGHAM MP John Redwood is calling for all Covid-19 patients to be moved to the NHS Nightingale hospitals and says health secretary Matt Hancock is “very sympathetic to the idea”.

The Conservative MP claims this would allow mainstream NHS hospitals to remain “virus free” and focus on other patients.

He is also confident there would be enough NHS staff to run all of the hospitals.

“I think I’m pushing on a half-open door but I’m going to keep on pushing because we’re still not seeing, on the whole, Covid-19 patients being taken to the Nightingale hospitals,” said Mr Redwood.

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Seven were set up in England during the peak of the pandemic as an insurance policy, in case mainstream hospitals became overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, but most were never used.

However, all of them remain on standby and this week the Nightingale hospitals in Harrogate, Manchester, and Sunderland were told to prepare for admissions.

Mr Redwood added: “Where you’ve got a Nightingale alternative, we should designate that hospital as a Covid hospital.

“Then we can say to people who need other types of urgent treatment ‘we’re sending you to a completely Covid free hospital’.

“I think it also helps staff in those hospitals to know they are not dealing with Covid-19.”

NHS England has been approached for a comment.

There are currently 4,650 people being treated for Covid-19 in UK hospitals and 516 are on ventilators.

However, the seven in England can provide more than 10,000 critical care beds.

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The Nightingale hospitals in Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff can provide a further 3,230 beds if needed.

Mr Redwood has also been calling on the government to devise a comprehensive “plan b” that can be implemented if an effective vaccine is not found.

He said: “The government is really hopeful there will be a vaccine and I hope they’re right, because that would be a good solution.

“But I do think we need to do more work on the alternative, in case the vaccine doesn’t materialise, or it can’t be scaled up quickly, or if there’s resistance.

“I don’t think we can carry on living in a world where you clamp everything down, do a lot of economic damage, get the virus down, relax, see the virus perk up again and then do the same thing again.”