Work on the Midlands’ newest hospital is progressing at a staggering rate and will take its first patients soon, although the public are being urged to continue to stay at home in the hope that its services are needed as little as possible.
NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is being built to provide extra capacity if needed to local services dealing with the increased number of patients during the peak of coronavirus.
Based at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham International Airport, the hospital will provide an initial 500 fully-equipped beds to support patients with COVID-19 who may no longer need intensive hospital care.
The facility will have the ability to scale up quickly to 4,000 beds, if needed.
The new NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham, led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), will have a workforce of doctors, nurses, therapists and support staff who will ensure that all patients receive the highest possible standards of care.
The NHS Nightingale Hospitals – currently also in London, Manchester, Harrogate and Bristol - 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.
The main purpose of the Nightingale Birmingham will be to ease pressure on other hospitals in the area.
By looking after general medical COVID-19 patients, it will allow existing hospitals and their expert clinical teams to focus on those who need intensive care.
Dr David Rosser, Chief Executive, UHB, said: “The extraordinary effort in creating the Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is a total team effort. Without this collective purpose we would not have been able to make the staggering preparations to deliver this facility.
“At the same time we have continued to see and treat patients at our other four hospitals to ensure continuity of care across the system, despite the huge challenges.
“The progress made on this site in just a few days, to turn it from a vast warehouse into an operational patient facility is quite unbelievable. It’s yet another example of the NHS and UHB pulling out all the stops alongside our military, ambulance, contractor and NEC partners to make this happen.
“However, we would all prefer that these beds – just like the extra beds the NHS has freed up across the region – are needed as little as possible, and so we would continue to urge members of the public to stay at home to help NHS staff save lives.”
Royal Engineer Major Angela Laycock, 66 Works Group, 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group, said: "It has been a pleasure to support the NHS from the beginning of this project. We have helped by providing technical engineering advice, including producing concept design drawings.
"Using the principles of scalable 'wards', like we do in operational accommodation, we helped speed up the design process.
"My draughtsman summed it up when he said, looking at the bed spaces on Sunday, 'I can't believe that this time last week this was a drawing on my laptop.”
West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “West Midlands Ambulance Service stands ready to support our colleagues in the acute sector and transfer patients from hospitals around the region to the new Nightingale Hospital as required.
“Our crews will also be on hand to take people home or onto other care facilities once they have recovered sufficiently. The safety of our staff and patients is clearly of paramount importance so ambulance crews will have access to specialist cleaning facilities at all times at the Nightingale Hospital.
“The fact that we have been able to set this up as quickly as we have is another example of the way our staff are going above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure we can help as many patients as possible and save lives.”
CEO of the NEC Group, Paul Thandi, said: “It is our honour as a company and workforce to step forward to help our country’s fight against the life-threatening virus COVID-19.
“All teams involved have worked seamlessly alongside our brilliant NHS and the MoD to deliver this facility, and we stand ready to continue playing our part in the NHS’s fight to save the lives of our families, friends and fellow citizens.”