In just over a week the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is now ready to receive patients and has been officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge today, 16 April, providing up to 2,000 more beds for coronavirus patients, if required.
Appearing via video link, as well as Health Secretary Matt Hancock, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens, The Duke of Cambridge, praised all those involved in setting up the new hospital, which will be run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Through another enormous team effort, NHS clinicians, military planners, construction workers and engineers have achieved an extraordinary feat in building and equipping a new NHS Nightingale in Birmingham in just over a week.
“Thanks to their incredible efforts, and to the team of dedicated NHS clinicians, nurses and support staff who will now work at NHS Nightingale, Birmingham, the NHS has the extra capacity it needs to care for patients with coronavirus in Birmingham and across the West Midlands.
“We all have a role to play in beating this disease and I urge you to continue to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
The praise by the minister for people involved in the creation of the hospital is telling that the government still fails to recognise the contribution the events industry makes in helping build these hospitals.
Constructed within eight days inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), near Birmingham International Airport, the new facility will initially provide up to 500 beds for general medical COVID-19 patients from across the Midlands, allowing existing hospitals and their expert clinical teams to focus on those who need intensive care.
Paul Gandy, Managing Director, Interserve Construction, the lead contractor onsite, added: “The NHS Nightingale Birmingham has been built at a remarkable pace and with huge discipline. Our 400 employees and contractors have worked over 40,000 hours since Saturday to build this hospital, employing great logistics and project management skills. The NHS Nightingale Birmingham shows what can be achieved when people come together across the construction sector to protect the NHS and save lives.
“As the principal contractor working with UHB, our key supply chain partners and the NEC, our people have been working on site 24 hours a day to create this lifesaving medical facility.”
The new facility is one of seven Nightingale hospitals to be set up around the country as part of a massive NHS effort to respond to the greatest global health emergency in more than a century.
This extra capacity is on top of the 33,000 additional beds freed up across NHS hospitals – the equivalent of building 50 district general hospitals – and the up to 8,000 beds put at the NHS’ disposal through an unprecedented deal with the independent sector.