UK hospital reveals its COVID ICU ward is now empty for first time since start of pandemic

Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham   (Photo by Emma Coles - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham has discharged its final coronavirus patient from its COVID ICU ward. (Getty)

After over a year of lockdowns and rising coronavirus numbers, one hospital in England has revealed its COVID ICU ward is now free of patients.

Mark Simmonds, who works in critical care for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, shared the good news about the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham on Twitter.

Simmonds tweeted a photo of a whiteboard at the hospital that was completely clear of patient names or notes, marking the moment the hospital's COVID ICU was empty for the first time.

He wrote: “This is one of three units we used at the peak. The other two closed recently.

“This one was newly built last year but immediately became a COVID unit.”

Simmonds said the ward will now be thoroughly cleaned and reopened as an extension to the hospital’s existing ICU while COVID numbers remain low.

According to Nottingham Live, there were 625 beds occupied by COVID patients at the hospital at the start of January.

There are currently 4,005 COVID patients in hospital in England, according to the latest government data, down from a peak of more than 33,000 in January.

The COVID ICU closure comes after it was revealed earlier this month that the Nightingale hospitals set up to cope with a spike in COVID cases will close from April.

Watch: NHS Nightingale hospitals to close from April

NHS England said existing hospitals have been able to increase their beds so successfully that the Nightingales are no longer needed, although the sites in London and Sunderland will stay open for vaccinations.

The network of seven hospitals in England was set up last spring amid fears that the health service may end up overwhelmed, as had happened in some other countries.

On Wednesday, the government said a further 98 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID, bringing the UK total to 126,382.

NHS staff in Nottingham hospitals have been kept extremely busy over the past year and are now being rewarded with an extra day off.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) are giving every worker a “wellbeing day” from the beginning of April up to the end of March next year, according to Nottingham Live.

File photo dated 03/10/14 of an NHS hospital ward. The Stay At Home messaging employed by the Government during the coronavirus crisis could have
Hospitals have had to cope with an influx of COVID patients over the past year. (PA/file photo)

Following a winter that saw a second wave of COVID, staff worked extra hours and helped set up new testing and vaccination programmes in the battle against the disease.

NUH's chief executive Tracy Taylor said to staff: "We want to recognise the sacrifices all of you have made, and are continuing to make…

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"During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been so many examples of our staff really going the extra mile, for our patients and for each other and the Executive Team have been in discussions about how we can again express our thanks to everyone for their dedication and commitment over the last 12, relentless months."

NHS staff are being encouraged to use the extra day off to do something that makes them happy or helps them relax.

Watch: How England will leave lockdown