Inside NHS Nightingale: the new 4,000-bed coronavirus hospital in London

This is the first look inside the vast 4,000-bed hospital that is being created inside London’s ExCel centre to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

A video shared on social media shows the vast field hospital, named the NHS Nightingale Hospital, that is being created at the site.

Sharing the video from inside the centre on Facebook, Alex Woodside said he was there to help lay cables for the new hospital.

Panning around the cavernous space, he said: “I didn’t take this virus really seriously until I saw this this morning. I came in and this is the size of the hall.”

Construction workers are converting the ExCel Centre into a 4,000 bed temporary hospital dubbed NHS Nightingale to deal with coronavirus patients. (Picture: Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

He went on: “We’ve got 4,000 bed to go in, two morgues, this hall is a kilometre long and there’s a hall out on the other side as well.

“If you’re not taking it seriously like I wasn’t, I think we really need to start, because they’re preparing for an absolute high death toll here.”

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Health bosses are reportedly identifying staff to be rapidly redeployed to NHS Nightingale.

An email from a London trust chief executive to staff, seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), said: “Along with other NHS trusts, we have been asked to identify a range of our people to help staff the new Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London.

“This is a key element of the NHS national response to coronavirus and will provide the first major wave of ‘surge’ capacity.

“The urgency in identifying staff is to allow time for training to take place before opening to patients.”

Alex Woodside said being inside the 4,000 bed temporary hospital had made him take coronavirus more seriously. (Picture: Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The email said the new hospital should take some pressure off London hospitals by absorbing demand, giving the trusts more time to increase their own capacity.

Away from London, the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham said it “stands ready” if it is needed to become a temporary field hospital during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The site close to Birmingham Airport has 18 exhibition halls and usually plays host to high-profile conferences and shows, but bosses said they are ready to help the NHS “with immediate effect”.

In a statement, NEC Group chief executive Paul Thandi said: “As a cornerstone of the local community, we are committed to playing our part in ensuring the health and wellbeing of everyone in our area.

“As such, we stand ready and willing to help our emergency services – especially at a time like this.”

The University of Northampton has also offered 300 free rooms at two halls of residence to staff and patients, to help ease the strain on the health service.

It is hoped the measure frees up space for those who need oxygen and critical care, the university said.

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