Two more NHS Nightingale hospitals open in Birmingham and Manchester amid COVID-19 pandemic

Emergency field hospitals, built in just a week, will cater for thousands affected by coronavirus outbreak

Interserve worked with architects, BDP, to transform the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham in just eight days

Just over a week after the opening of the first NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCeL centre in east London; two further coronavirus emergency-response facilities have opened in Manchester and Birmingham.

The Duke of Cambridge officially opened Birmingham’s NHS Nightingale Hospital on 10 April; followed, on Friday, by the opening of the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West at the Manchester Central Convention Centre, an event overseen by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Set inside the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), the West Midlands facility will take COVID-19 patients from 23 hospitals across the region.

Leading the opening ceremony via video link, Prince William called the project a ‘wonderful example’ of the ‘pulling together’ going on up and down the UK during the pandemic.

BDP has designed all three of the hospitals that have currently opened in London, Manchester and Birmingham (pictured)

The site, which will be run by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, initially has 500 beds, but there is a contingency plan in place to increase this to 1,500 if the number of people infected continues to rise.

It has been incredibly humbling to see all the hard work that has gone into building a hospital out of nothing and in such a short period of time

More than 400 civilian contractors, along with military personnel and around 500 clinical staff, were involved in building the temporary field hospital as part of a project delivered in just eight days to a design by BDP Architects, which was also responsible for repurposing the ExCeL centre, the first of the hospitals to open in the UK.

The initial construction phase was carried out by contractor, Interserve.

Prince William said: “Let me start by reiterating all that has been said so far and paying tribute to the incredible work that NHS staff across the country have been doing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Just days after Birmingham opened its emergency response unit, Manchester followed suit with the launch of the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital

"Their selfless commitment has touched the hearts of the entire nation."

He added: "The Nightingale hospitals will rightly go down as landmarks in the history of the NHS.

"The NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is a wonderful example of Britain pulling together."

BDP’s team also designed the Manchester hospital, which opened on Friday.

Constructed by IHP, a joint venture between VINCI Construction UK and Sir Robert McAlpine under the ProCure22 framework, in conjunction with Mott MacDonald and M&E contractor, NG Bailey, the hospital has 36 beds, with a future capacity of 750.

The revamp of the Grade II-listed building was completed in less than two weeks, with 1,000 people working round the clock.

The 14,500sq m floorspace could cover Wembley twice over and there is more than 104km of data cable; 45km of power cable; and 3,400m of partitioning.

Speaking at the opening, Professor Michael McCourt, chief executive of the Manchester Nightingale, said: “It has been incredibly humbling to see all the hard work that has gone into building a hospital out of nothing and in such a short period of time.

“This hospital will play a crucial role in caring for COVID-19 patients and supporting hospitals across the region.

“By providing care for patients who no longer need to be in a critical care environment we will be helping to make sure the highest-level critical care beds are available for those patients who need them.

“This hospital will help save lives.”

VINCI was responsible for construction work at the Manchester site, which took just 13 days to complete

The Duchess of Cornwall added: “In creating this Nightingale hospital, you have truly brought light to a dark time. But this is not surprising. Manchester is a past master at bringing light to dark times.

“We all feel the deepest admiration for the single-minded dedication that has created the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital, and the way all efforts have been directed to one object: caring for those who contract Covid-19.

“This gives us the hope and the confidence that the virus will be defeated.”

Delivering emergency hospital facilities in conference and exhibition centres is unprecedented, so we have been drawing on our previous experience of designing large-scale healthcare facilities in hospitals like Alder Hey

And, commenting on the design of the facility, BDP’s principal architect, Ged Couser, said: “Delivering emergency hospital facilities in conference and exhibition centres is unprecedented, so we have been drawing on our previous experience of designing large-scale healthcare facilities in hospitals like Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

“The biggest challenge on the project has been responding to an evolving brief while delivering the services at the same time, and all within two weeks, from the very start to the project handover.

“The scale of the task has been absolutely unprecedented, and it has taken an incredible collaborative team effort between the client, the design team, the contractor and the army.”

The NHS is now working round the clock to complete four more centres in Harrogate, Tyne and Wear, Exeter, and Bristol.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have also announced plans to increase the availability of beds by repurposing major public and sporting venues.

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