03 April 2020
The first NHS Nightingale hospital, at ExCeL London, was officially opened by HRH Prince Charles.
The new hospital, established in under a fortnight, will be available as soon as patients across London and the south of England need it.
The Nightingales are part of a nationwide effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century.
These measures mean that capacity still exists in hospitals to deal with coronavirus, with the Nightingales standing ready if local services need them beyond that.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, said: “It’s nothing short of extraordinary that this new hospital in London has been established from scratch in less than a fortnight. The NHS, working with the military, has done in a matter of days what usually takes years. Now we are gearing up to repeat that feat at another four sites across the country to add to the surge capacity in current NHS hospitals.
"We’re giving the go ahead to these additional sites, hoping they may not be needing but preparing in case they ae. But that will partly depend on continuing public support for measures to reduce growth in the infection rate by staying at home to save lives.”
Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “Our country is facing the largest national emergency for a generation and our thoughts are with those who are personally affected. We are enormously proud of the NHS and the remarkable and unrelenting role they are undertaking, at this time. As part of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), the team at ExCeL is honoured to play its part, working with the Government to support the increasing demand for hospital beds and save lives. Everyone working at NHS Nightingale has our full support and we wish them all the very best.”
Dr Allan McGlellan, Medical Director of the NHS Nightingale, said: “I’m so proud to be a part of this extraordinary achievement and my team and I are ready to care for people who need us. The NHS faces the greatest challenge in its history but by setting up this new site we can work with the hardest hit part of the country, to support staff in the capital’s other hospitals and make sure people who need intensive care can get it.
"We are ready today to do what’s required of us, but my hope is that we are not needed, because if we all take sensible steps to reduce transmission of this virus then fewer people will need care and the pressure on my hardworking colleagues will reduce.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “The nation is facing an unprecedented global emergency and we are taking exceptional measures to ensure the NHS has whatever it needs to tackle this virus. The NHS and the military have achieved something extraordinary in setting up NHS Nightingale, London in only a matter of days. It is testament to their hard work and dedication that an additional four hospitals will be rolled out across the nation. We must all play our part to assist our heroes on the health and social care frontline and I urge everyone to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”