Just over a week since work started, NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham has been officially opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge today, providing hundreds more beds for coronavirus patients, if local services need them.
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.
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. If required a second stake expansion could see the new hospital provide support for 2,000 coronavirus patients.
The construction involved members of the armed forces, many of whom are based at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine within the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which is also run by UHB.
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.
These measures combined mean that capacity still exists in hospitals to care for patients with coronavirus, as well as other patients who may need urgent and emergency treatment, with the Nightingales standing ready if local services need them beyond that.
The Right Hon Jacqui Smith, Chair of UHB said: “This new NHS Nightingale Hospital is an extraordinary achievement, and provides local people and staff with the reassurance that there will be additional beds available if they are needed.
“Our doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff across the region are working incredibly hard to make sure people get the care they need during what is the single greatest challenge in the history of the NHS.”
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.”