Temporary Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate could be brought back into use to help with the spike in COVID-19 cases.
NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis told a Downing Street briefing there would also be increased testing of health staff in hotspot areas.
"To protect our staff and our patients we will be introducing – with tests provided by the Test and Trace service – regular testing for staff in these high-risk areas, even when they don’t have symptoms," Prof Powis said.
"This will help us keep staff and patients in those hospitals as safe as possible.
"Secondly, we have asked the Nightingale hospitals in Manchester, Sunderland and Harrogate to prepare for this next phase.
"They are being asked to mobilise over the next few weeks to be ready to accept patients if necessary."
Local clinicians will decide whether the sites are used for coronavirus patients or to provide extra capacity to maintain services for people without coronavirus.
The temporary Nightingale hospitals were set up earlier in the year.
Military personnel helped to set up the hospitals around the country to provide additional care capacity for coronavirus patients.
These include hospitals at London's ExCel, Birmingham's NEC, and a hospital at Manchester Central Convention Complex, formerly known as the GMEX, opened after being set up with the help of military personnel.
The British Army also helped convert Glasgow's SEC Centre into a temporary NHS hospital and to build a field hospital at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
Royal Engineers were praised for their work in helping to construct NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter.
Cover image: A picture of a sign outside the NHS Nightingale hospital in Manchester (Picture: Xinhua/PA).