Health Secretary unveils NHS Nightingale field hospital in London

East London’s ExCeL Centre is set to be turned into a makeshift NHS field hospital, dubbed NHS Nightingale, amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according the Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

The exhibition space, which is more accustomed to hosting Crufts and Comic Con than it is treating patients, will be turned into a temporary medical facility to eventually hold up to 4,000 patients, staffed by NHS medics with the help of the military.

Initially, the site will provide around 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen.

Military planners and NHS England staff visited the site over the weekend, the Ministry of Defence said, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace explaining the military was seeking other possible locations to carry out similar activities and treat patients who cannot be accommodated in regular NHS facilities.

The measures follow in the footsteps of a number of other countries around the world, with Madrid’s IFEMA exhibition centre and the Javits convention centre in New York both being converted temporarily to treat coronavirus patients.

One hospital in Mulhouse, France is using its car park as a makeshift field hospital.

NHS staff operating at the NHS Nightingale site may include students and retired nurses and doctors who’ve returned to the workforce, as the UK continues to attempt to bolster its number of active healthcare professionals.

Since the UK’s plea to retired medics to return to the NHS, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the NHS had seen more than 11,500 come forward, include more than 2,500 doctors and 6,000 nurses.

More than 18,500 student nurses and 5,500 final year medics are also expected to join the NHS workforce to help combat the coronavirus outbreak, while there has also been a call for some 250,000 NHS volunteers to help deliver food and medicines.

Main Image credit: Pippa Fowles/DPA/PA Images


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