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NHS England has launched a temporary community hospital in Surrey to provide rehabilitation to patients recovering from COVID-19.

The first-of-its-kind in England, the NHS Seacole Centre – named after pioneering Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole – will be used as a temporary service for those that survived COVID-19, as well as providing rehabilitation to those who have been in hospital for routine treatment.

The facility will have up to 300 inpatient beds if they are needed.

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The extra space will mean there will be more capacity in nearby hospitals to care for those who need care for coronavirus, as well as patients who need urgent and emergency treatment, says NHS England.

Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, said: “As well as providing important care in its own right, this new service – by recalling the pioneering work of Mary Seacole – rightly pays tribute to our BAME nurses and other staff at the forefront of the extraordinary NHS response to this terrible covid19 pandemic.

“It also serves as a timely reminder that it is their contribution over the past seven decades that has been a foundation for the very success and continuation of the NHS itself. I fully expect that this will be just the first of a number of Seacole services that will now begin to be established across the country as the NHS moves through the peak of inpatient coronavirus care and the need for community health and rehabilitative services grows.”

It comes as the first emergency Nightingale field hospital in London at the Excel has been put on standby as no new admissions are expected as demand has fallen short of worst-case projections.

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