THE NHS trust in charge of the region's Nightingale Hospital has provided an update on whether it will open after hospital executives warned of bed shortages in the North-East.

The Newastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Nightingale Hospital North East, near Sunderland, made the comments as stern warnings were issued.

Hospital executives from NHS trusts across the North-East last night warned of fewer patient beds, and more deaths, unless the region's cases started to fall.

SEE MORE: NHS bosses warn of bed shortages unless Covid cases fall in the North-East

Residents were also told to avoid A&E unless for serious or life-threatening emergencies as a result of a sharp rise in the region's Covid infection rate.

But the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust today provided an update on whether it believed the Nightingale Hospital would be open by Christmas - and how it would be staffed.

The Northern Echo: Picture: NORTHERN ECHOPicture: NORTHERN ECHO

A spokesperson for the trust said: "We still hope that action to stop the spread of Coronavirus, including people following Government advice on ‘hands, face and space’ and other restrictions along with the track and trace programme, will reduce infection rates so that the Nightingales will not be required."

The hospital, which can treat up to 460 Covid patients, has never been used and remained on standby during the first wave of the pandemic.

How it will be staffed

Adressing how staffing the huge site near Nissan would work, the trust said staff from across the region would be "called upon" if needed.

The trust said: "The region’s NHS has flexed hospital capacity – as well as other services - as needed throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so, including staffing the North East Nightingale Hospital if it is needed.

"Nursing staff plus allied healthcare professionals will be called upon if needed. Staff will be drawn from across the NHS and other healthcare organisations."

The Northern Echo: University Hospital of North Durham Picture: NORTHERN ECHOUniversity Hospital of North Durham Picture: NORTHERN ECHO

Last night, the chief executives of NHS Foundation Trusts for Newcastle Hospitals, Northumbria Healthcare, South Tyneside and Sunderland, Gateshead, County Durham and Darlington, the North East Ambulance Service, Cumbria Northumberland Tyne and Wear Mental Health, and North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System Development, issued a renewed plea for residents to stick to the rules.

In a joint-statement, they said: "Over the past few weeks, we have seen cases in our communities increasing and, as a result, hospital admissions are rising rapidly. Unfortunately, this is a trend we are likely to see continue going into winter.

"Our local hospitals are appealing to the public to only attend A&E if they have serious or life-threatening emergencies.

'This leads to worse outcomes, including deaths'

"We have learnt so much about Covid and how to treat it, but the virus remains a potent threat.

"The more Covid positive patients in hospital, the fewer beds and staff we have to treat other people. Inevitably this leads to worse outcomes, including, sadly, excess deaths.

"The current lockdown is due to end on 2 December and what lies beyond that is unknown territory.

"It is just 14 days away, so we all need to continue reducing social contact and following the rules.

"We need to all remember why we are doing this. It is about saving lives and protecting the NHS to ensure it is not over run and able to cope with the demands on our services.  We need your support to ensure that all our services remain open and safe."