THE NATIONAL Exhibition Centre in Solihull could be transformed into a huge ‘field hospital’ to treat coronavirus patients, under plans being rapidly drawn up by the government.
Military planners at the Ministry of Defence are aiding the NHS in identifying large indoor spaces which can be turned into hospitals.
One such location, the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands, is already becoming a 4000-bed hospital dedicated to treating coronavirus, named NHS Nightingale. Its location is reported to be a 1km-long warehouse, with morgues for the dead.
According to national media reports, the NEC has also been identified to potentially house similar facilities for the Midlands, as coronavirus cases rise across the region. Another could be in Manchester.
The NEC is almost double the size of the ExCel Centre and could combine medical crisis facilities with treatment wards, pharmacies and morgues.
Just weeks after hosting events such as Classic Car Live and Crufts, the NEC is now in talks with the NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group to host the medical facility.
The centre’s chief executive Paul Thandi said staff were “committed to playing our part” should the need arise for a field hospital.
Mr Thandi added: “As a cornerstone of the local community, we are committed to the wellbeing of everyone in our area.
“As such, we stand ready and willing to help our emergency services – especially at a time like this.
“The NEC is well equipped to be used as a support base if such need arises so please be assured, that if we are requested to do so, we can action this with immediate effect.”