Staff at a fire and rescue service have been praised for helping to launch the Nightingale Hospital – as the site closed its doors for the final time this week. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) were vital in ensuring the Washington-based hospital was ready in time to help fight coronavirus.
The hospital was initially built to treat patients but it quickly had to be adapted for the vaccination programme as the nation reacted to the spread of the virus.
However, the site may never have been ready in time for peak demand if it were not for the actions of staff at TWFRS back in May 2020. They answered a call from the NHS to help design the building, ensure it was compliant with fire safety and support with the logistics of offering mass vaccinations.
Fire and rescue services thanked
This week) the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who led the project, once again thanked TWFRS for their support throughout the pandemic.
Professor Neil Watson, who heads up the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme for the North East and North Cumbria, said: “It’s been a real team effort from the very beginning.”
“It’s staggering to look back and see that over a quarter of a million vaccines have been administered from this site alone which has made an enormous difference in our fight against the pandemic.”
“My huge thanks go out to everyone that made that possible.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Lynsey McVay, of TWFRS, also praised those staff who answered the call throughout the pandemic.
She said: “We are really proud of how our community has come together throughout the pandemic to help keep one another safe.
“There have been some amazing stories of residents in Tyne and Wear going above and beyond to protect vulnerable people and offer them support.
“The Fire and Rescue Service plays an important role in a community response to a major incident and the pandemic was no different. Our staff volunteered thousands of hours of their own time to set up vaccination centres, help deliver tests and even administer jabs to the community.
“The closure of the Nightingale Hospital does not mean coronavirus is no longer a threat to our communities but does provide us an opportunity to reflect.”
“The hospital signified that we will always answer the call when our community needs us. It is exactly what TWFRS is all about.”
Vaccinations still available
The NHS is still offering first and second doses, as well as first boosters for anyone who has not yet had theirs.
You can find your nearest walk-in clinic on your local authority website. You can book an appointment at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine, or by calling 119 free of charge.