London’s NHS Nightingale opens: ‘a shining light' in these dark times

London’s newest hospital, NHS Nightingale opened today after a heroic nine-day build. The field hospital, housed in London’s Excel Centre, will be the world’s largest critical care unit.

NHS Nightingale opened with 500 beds with capacity for 3,500 more. It will be used to treat patients who have been transferred from intensive care units across the capital. Up to 16,000 staff could be working at the facility. These will include NHS nurses, doctors and volunteers from St John Ambulance.

Prince Charles opened the hospital via video message from home, where he is himself recovering from coronavirus symptoms. He said, “Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour. In this dark time this place will be a shining light." More hospitals are expected to be built across the UK in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. 

Today’s special edition of The Leader: Coronavirus Daily tells the story of this heroic project, with contributions from our reporters who have been inside the new Nightingale hospital.


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