NHS Nightingale Hospital London

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NHS Nightingale Hospital London
Barts Health NHS Trust
NHS Nightingale Hospital London Logo.png
NHS Nightingale Hospital London main entrance (2) (cropped).jpg
The main entrance of the hospital during its refit on 30 March 2020
NHS Nightingale Hospital London
Location Custom House, London, England
Coordinates 51°30′29″N00°01′49″E / 51.50806°N 0.03028°E / 51.50806; 0.03028 Coordinates: 51°30′29″N00°01′49″E / 51.50806°N 0.03028°E / 51.50806; 0.03028
Care system NHS England
Type COVID-19 critical care
Beds500 (potential for 4,000)
Opened3 April 2020
Website www.nightingale-london.nhs.uk OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Lists Hospitals in England

The NHS Nightingale Hospital London is the first of the NHS Nightingale Hospitals: temporary hospitals set up by NHS England for the COVID-19 pandemic. It is housed in the ExCeL London convention centre in East London, and has an initial capacity for 500 patients, with potential for 4,000. The hospital was rapidly planned and constructed, being formally opened on 3 April and receiving its first patients on 7 April 2020.



To add extra critical care capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, and to treat those with COVID-19, plans were made to create further temporary hospital spaces for those in need of treatment and care. [1] [2] They have been named "Nightingale Hospitals", after Florence Nightingale who came to prominence for nursing soldiers during the Crimean War and is regarded as the founder of modern nursing. [3]

Planning and construction

Aerial view of the ExCeL London, the site of the hospital, in 2015 Aerial view of ExCeL Exhibition London, July 2015.jpg
Aerial view of the ExCeL London, the site of the hospital, in 2015

On 21 and 22 March 2020, military planners and NHS England staff visited ExCeL London – an exhibition and convention centre in the Custom House area of Newham, East London – to "determine if the armed forces could support the NHS response to the outbreak". Plans to create the hospital were announced in a press briefing by Health Secretary Matt Hancock on 24 March. [2] The hospital would be run by NHS staff and volunteers, with 700 military personnel providing logistic assistance. [4] [5]

The facility was planned and constructed in conjunction with the British Armed Forces and British architects BDP, with the mission being run from the Headquarters Standing Joint Command in Aldershot, which coordinates resilience missions for the UK. [6] The main contractor was CFES. [7]

The facility was formally opened on 3 April 2020 by the Prince of Wales (via video link) in a ceremony during which the hospital's Head of Nursing unveiled a plaque. [8] The first patients were admitted on 7 April. [9]

The television medical drama Holby City uses operational ventilators on set, and these were donated to the hospital. [10]

Operational details

The hospital's role is to treat patients already intubated and ventilated at other London hospitals. [11]

On 30 March 2020 it was announced that legal responsibility for the hospital would be passed to Barts Health NHS Trust, an existing NHS trust, as NHS England does not have legal powers to manage a hospital directly. [12] The hospital's CEO is Charles Knight, seconded from within the Barts trust. [13]

The hospital's current capacity is 500 patients, and it could be expanded to take 4,000. [14] [15] In that case it would be the largest hospital in the UK, significantly larger than the biggest permanent hospital, Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, which has 1,677 beds. [16]

The hospital was designed with capacity to receive and discharge up to 150 patients per day. [17] The number of staff when the hospital reaches full capacity was first reported as 16,000 [18] and later as 25,000. [11]


During the Easter weekend of 11–12 April 2020, the hospital only had 19 patients because the existing London hospitals had sufficient capacity after increasing their combined intensive care capacity from 770 beds to 1,555. [19]

The number of people in London hospitals for COVID-19 (not just those in intensive care) peaked on 11 April, according to week-on-week change data. [20]

On 21 April 2020, The Guardian reported that staff at the hospital had claimed that the hospital had been "obliged to reject people needing care because it cannot get enough of the nurses usually based in other hospitals to work there". [21] This allegation was rebutted by a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson, who stated that no coronavirus patients were being refused treatment due to a shortage of staff as the new hospital was to provide overflow capacity if required. [21] [22] As of 24 April, 41 patients had been treated at the hospital. [23]

On 4 May 2020, it was announced that the hospital would be put 'on standby', after treating 54 patients, as no new COVID-19 patients were expected to be admitted. [24] Operationally, it shut on 15 May, although it was expected that the hospital would remain available for use on a rent-free basis. [25] In December, it was reported that all the beds and equipment inside the hospital had been removed. [26] During the second wave of COVID-19, in January 2021 the hospital reopened for recovering and non-COVID patients. [27] [28]

Vaccination centre

In January 2021, another part of the ExCeL centre was reconfigured to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. [29]

See also

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