In a matter of days, five of the UK’s biggest exhibition venues have been transformed into temporary hospitals, and one has become a foodbank to support the nation’s efforts in tackling Covid-19.
The exhibition industry and EN would like to thank everyone who was involved in what can only be described as one of the biggest ‘peacetime’ operations this country has ever witnessed. The creation of five Nightingale hospitals must be commended. While our industry is familiar with producing scores of weekly events, suppliers both large and small, some of which gave up their time for free, deserve recognition for their efforts.
NHS Nightingale London
(ExCeL) NHS Nightingale London was created in just nine days. The hospital was opened by HRH Prince of Wales on Friday 3 April with an initial capacity of 500 beds but up to 4,000 beds, if required.
Jeremy Rees, CEO, ExCeL London, said: “Our country is facing the largest national emergency for a generation and our thoughts are with everyone who is personally affected by Covid-19. We are honoured to have worked alongside the Government and the NHS to support the increasing demand for hospital beds. I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank the ExCeL team, our owners (Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company), contractors and other industry stakeholders who helped build the world’s largest hospital, in just 9 days.
“It is a privilege to support the NHS and its wonderful staff, who are working day and night to protect people and save lives. Like everyone in our industry, we look forward to the day when we can return to hosting world-leading events and will do everything we can to ensure that we come back stronger.”
NHS Nightingale Hospital North West (Manchester Central)
Less than three weeks since work first started, NHS Nightingale Hospital North West officially opened on 17 April, inside Manchester Central, to provide care for hundreds of patients with Covid-19 from across the region.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will provide both oxygen therapy and general medical care for Covid-19 patients and can look after up to 750 patients at full capacity.
Shaun Hinds, Chief Executive of Manchester Central, said: “It has been a real privilege to be part of the team that has delivered the hospital from start to finish in such a short space of time. The transformation of the venue from an iconic events space into a fully functioning hospital ready to receive patients is remarkable and another significant milestone in its history.
“It’s incredible that this facility now exists to support the North West in its fight against Covid-19 and I wish all the patients who are cared for at the hospital a speedy and full recovery. There is an amazing team of care staff and frontline workers looking after them and I continue to extend my heartfelt thanks to them, and to the entire NHS, for their inspiring efforts during this time.”
NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham (The NEC)
In just over a week the NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham was ready to receive patients and was officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge on 16 April, providing up to 2,000 more beds for coronavirus patients, if required.
Constructed within eight days inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the new facility provides up to 500 beds for general medical Covid-19 patients from across the Midlands.
Paul Gandy, Managing Director at Interserve Construction, the lead contractor onsite, said: “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 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 worked on site 24 hours a day to create this lifesaving medical facility.”
NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber (Harrogate Convention Centre)
The NHS Nightingale Hospital Yorkshire and the Humber, built at Harrogate Convention Centre, was ready to start welcoming NHS staff on 14 April. Staff and emergency services lined up outside the venue to celebrate the completion of the new hospital which will serve the North East.
Paula Lorimer, Director of Harrogate Convention Centre, said: “The repurposing of convention centres is something ourindustry and sector should be rightly proud of. In Harrogate, our team is doing all it can to support the NHS in its efforts.
“Like the rest of the country, we want to do all we can, and are ready to help during this unprecedented national and global crisis. My team have very much been hidden heroes working diligently behind the scenes. They willingly came into work at a moment’s notice and worked around the clock.”
Foodbank at Olympia London
Olympia London’s National Hall was converted into a large food storage, production and distribution facility to support vulnerable and isolated residents reliant on donations.
The new Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank service, which was officially opened on 14 April, is now delivering over 1,000 parcels per week, increasing the organisation’s capacity by 400 percent.
Nigel Nathan, Managing Director of Olympia London, said: “In these difficult times, we’re delighted to be able to play our small part by offering Olympia London to Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Foodbank while they provide vital help to thousands of people that need it most in our local community. Their teams are doing a heroic job. And I’m also so grateful to our few staff that are still manning our venue to keep it safe while this important work is carried out.”
NHS Louisa Jordan hospital (Scottish Events Campus)
NHS Louisa Jordan hospital is now equipped and clinically ready to treat patients during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, if required.
The new field hospital could have capacity for more than 1,000 patients and was named after Glasgow-born First World War nurse Sister Louisa Jordan.
Peter Duthie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Event Campus said: “As we navigate the most significant challenge of our generation, we are proud to be in a position to help our NHS with an alternative hospital provision.
“Our teams will support the NHS in the build, security and safe operation of the resource, and continue to express our sincere gratitude for all that they are doing to fight Covid-19.”