NHS Nightingale London at ExCeL London

ExCeL London

 

April 2020 will be remembered as the month in which lives were saved under ExCeL’s roof.

The venue’s team takes enormous pride in the versatility of the building.

But never has its versatility been tested in quite the way it was during the response to the coronavirus crisis. At the end of March, in just nine days, ExCeL was transformed into a hospital which – if needed – could care for 4,000 patients.

ExCeL was to be the first of numerous Nightingale hospitals, setting the blueprint for facilities which would be built in other venues.

As the country went into lockdown to suppress the spread of Covid-19, hundreds of NHS staff, army personnel and private contractors joined ExCeL staff to construct a temporary hospital that would be available to the NHS should existing hospitals in the capital become overwhelmed.

Converting ExCeL’s halls – which just weeks before were hosting conferences and exhibitions – into a hospital equipped, initially, with 500 beds, complete with ventilators, oxygen feeds, sinks and IT facilities, in such a short period of time, was described by HRH the Prince of Wales, who formally opened the hospital, as “a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense”.

This was an enormously complex project and one in which the NHS left no stone unturned, ensuring medical care provided at ExCeL was second-to-none.

Thankfully, the hospital was only needed for a month – buying the NHS enough time to add capacity in intensive care units at its purpose-built hospitals.

The first patient was admitted on April 7 and the last patient discharged on May 8. The hospital then went into standby mode – ready to be brought back into action in a timely way, in the unlikely event it should be needed.

But during that time, lives were saved at ExCeL.

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