Coronavirus 'Nightingale Hospital' opens at London's ExCeL

First views of the makeshift new hospital which could cater from more than 4,000 patients

Downing Street has revealed the first photographs from inside the new Nightingale Hospital, due to open later this week at the ExCeL Conference Centre in east London. Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street Credit : Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street

A 500-bed ‘Nightingale hospital’ is set to open at the ExCeL Conference Centre in east London this week to deal with the growing number of patients with coronavirus.

NHS England announced the move as part of a package of measures to support thousands more patients and take the strain off local hospitals.

In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, we are taking exceptional steps to increase NHS capacity so we can treat more patients, fight the virus, and save lives

There are also plans for similar makeshift units at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre and Manchester’s Central Conference Centre over the coming weeks and possible units in Wales and Scotland.

The hospitals will feature rows upon rows of cubicles and will be equipped with ventilators and oxygen to treat the seriously ill.

Initially, the ExCeL will hold 500 people, but could eventually cater for up to 4,000. Similarly, Birmingham and Manchester could house up to 2,000 and 1,000 respectively.

The hospital is the first of potentially five to open in England, Scotland and Wales

The former exhibition and concert venues are being converted with the help of soldiers and trade contractors.

NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “Under these exceptionally-challenging circumstances the NHS is taking extraordinary steps to fight coronavirus.

This will be a model of care never needed or seen before in this country, but our specialist doctors are in touch with their counterparts internationally who are also opening facilities like this in response to the shared global pandemic

“That’s why NHS clinicians and managers are working with military planners and engineers to create, equip, staff and open the NHS Nightingale London, and we’re very grateful for their support.

“This will be a model of care never needed or seen before in this country, but our specialist doctors are in touch with their counterparts internationally who are also opening facilities like this in response to the shared global pandemic.

“Despite these amazing measures, the fact is no health service in the world will cope if coronavirus lets rip, which is why NHS staff are pleading with the public to follow medical advice – stay at home, stop the virus spreading, and save lives.”

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, who like Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has tested positive for the virus, added: “In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, we are taking exceptional steps to increase NHS capacity so we can treat more patients, fight the virus, and save lives.

“I applaud the NHS, engineers, and the military for their continued work on setting up the new NHS Nightingale Hospital so it is ready to open its doors this week – a remarkable feat in these challenging circumstances.”

Initially, the ExCeL has 500 bed spaces, each equipped with ventilators and oxygen

Military personnel have been involved in the planning stages and continue to support NHS England by providing infrastructure, logistics and project management advice.

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Our military planners and engineers are working hand in hand with the NHS to support its development of the NHS Nightingale Hospital.

I applaud the NHS, engineers, and the military for their continued work on setting up the new NHS Nightingale Hospital so it is ready to open its doors this week – a remarkable feat in these challenging circumstances

The Armed Forces have already been distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet the increased demand and we stand ready to assist further in any capacity needed.

“The NHS and our Armed Forces are both world leaders in their fields, and this ambitious project is just one example of what can be achieved when they come together to help the nation.”

The centres will be staffed by nurses, doctors and other workers from across the health service, as well as a number of military medics and retired medical professionals.

As well as the Nightingale hospitals, work has also begun on a temporary mortuary at Birmingham Airport, with space for 12,000 bodies.

The centres are being transformed with the help of the Armed Forces and trade contractors. Downing Street has revealed the first photographs from inside the new Nightingale Hospital, due to open later this week at the ExCeL Conference Centre in east London. Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street Credit : Picture by Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street

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