THE GOVERNMENT has in the last hour confirmed plans to transform the National Exhibition Centre into a coronavirus field hospital.
Military planners at the Ministry of Defence are aiding the NHS to rapidly build hospitals in large convention centres.
In the daily coronavirus briefing (March 27), Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS said: “The health service is making an extraordinary effort right across this country – that is why staff are pulling out all the stops in an unprecedented response to this global health crisis.
“As of today, across England, we have reconfigured hospital services so that 33.000 beds are there to treat further coronavirus patients.
“Its also why we are taking the extraordinary action to build new hospitals in very short order, staring with the NHS Nightingale hospital in East London, and today I have given the go ahead to the building of two more NHS Nightingale hospitals – beginning at the Birmingham NEC and the Manchester central convention centre, with more hospitals to follow.”
Work started this week to turn the ExCel centre in London’s Docklands into a 4000-bed hospital dedicated to treating coronavirus.
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 poised to host the medical facility.
Earlier this week, 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.”