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Nightingale Hospitals

COVID-19 Response


Case Study: NHS Nightingale

As part of Covid-19 response, Dearden HR were asked to lead on the set up and implementation of the workforce requirements for one of the NHS Nightingale units. The Nightingale was a 120 bedded purpose built unit providing ventilated, non-ventilated capacity and end of life care for patients with Covid-19 Dearden HR worked with the Host Trust and other leads throughout the project, ensuring a smooth transition prior to formal handover at the end of May 2020.  

Key to the requirement was that the project needed to be delivered at pace and within an 8-week timescale. Dearden HR worked with Senior Responsible Officers (SRO) from other workstreams, the Project Management Office (PMO), Estates, clinical teams from the host Trust, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Health Education England, NHS Leadership Academy colleagues, the military, NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I), regional and national trade union representatives, Chief Executives and HR Directors from across two Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) to ensure that the hospital was built on time and was fit for purpose.

A team of five Consultants from Dearden HR worked on the project with Dearden’s Managing Director, Mark Gammage, appointed as SRO for the workstream. Each Consultant was appointed as lead for a specific workstream including recruitment, clinical modelling and deployment, training, induction and orientation, welfare and support and policies with Dearden also providing project support. Key to delivery was engaging with the host Trust and clinical teams to ensure all workstream outputs were agreed and aligned with key dependencies.


Key Issues and Requirements

  • The NHS Nightingale had to be configured and built at pace. 
  • The Covid-19 landscape was constantly changing informing multiple changes to the clinical model.  Dearden HR adopted a flexible approach engaging clinicians on a continuous basis to secure agreement. 
  • There were complexities with working with a number of individual Trusts who all had their own recovery plans and were unable to commit to releasing staff. 
  • All work needed to be undertaken remotely by the team in line with Government requirements at the time. 
  • The clinical modelling needed to be based on staffing ratios as per the NHS Nightingale London and other Nightingales but adjusted to suit local circumstance and to ensure clinical buy-in 
  • The project brief included developing the clinical model up to 120 beds, resourcing and inducting staff due to work in the Nightingale for the first 24 beds initially and securing recruitment pipelines for additional staff up to maximum capacity.  


Our Results

  • An agreed model for staffing the Nightingale and the management structure based on the clinical model of delivery
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  • 100 WTE staff recruited to staff the initial 24 beds.
  • Systems for rostering staff agreed and established
  • Comprehensive induction planned and initiated for this first cohort of staff including on-line induction, on-site (with social distancing), webinars and other materials
  • Establishment of processes for on-site orientation when the build site was complete
  • Further recruitment pipelines identified and secured for staffing up to full occupancy.
  • Local policies amended to suit Nightingale.
  • Robust processes for scaling up staff accommodation requirements.
  • Process agreed to staff the Nightingale with 72 hour