UK government says emergency COVID hospitals remain on standby

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Leaflets sit on a table at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh

LONDON (Reuters) - Emergency hospitals set up at the start of the coronavirus pandemic are still available to support Britain's state-run national health service as it tackles a new wave of patients, Prime Minster Boris Johnson's spokesman said on Tuesday.

British media had reported that the so-called 'Nightingale' hospitals set up at record speed earlier in the year were quietly being dismantled.

"The Nightingales are ready to support the NHS and are an important insurance policy should they be needed," the spokesman said.

"Some are already being used for outpatients and for diagnostics and scans, and some are being prepared for additional use as COVID vaccination centres," he added.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Paul Sandle, editing by David Milliken)