The new NHS Nightingale Hospital has opened at the National Exhibition Centre after eight days of intensive building and fit out work.
The complex in Solihull is more accustomed to hosting major business conferences and consumer events such as Crufts and The Clothes Show but has been transformed into a hospital for coronavirus patients.
Interserve Construction handed over the hospital today after 86,000 hours of work by more than 400 staff and 60 Gurkhas to get the building ready.
It was officially opened by Prince William and Health Secretary Matt Hancock via a video link.
It will initially provide up to 800 patient beds equipped with ventilators but has capacity to extend to 4,000 beds.
The new facility is one of seven ‘Nightingale’ hospitals to be set up around the country and adds to the 33,000 beds freed up across NHS hospitals and up to 8,000 beds put at the NHS’ disposal through a deal with the independent sector.
It was delivered on behalf of the NHS and the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.
Chairwoman Jacqui Smith said: “This new NHS Nightingale Hospital is an extraordinary achievement and provides local people and staff with the reassurance that there will be additional beds available if they are needed.
“Our doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff across the region are working incredibly hard to make sure people get the care they need during what is the single greatest challenge in the history of the NHS.”
Paul Gandy, managing director of Interserve Construction, said: “Despite the major logistical challenges, it shows what can be achieved when people come together from across the construction sector.
“I would like to thank everyone involved for their phenomenal efforts in delivering this critical project.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street added: “On behalf of the residents of the West Midlands, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has made Nightingale Birmingham happen.
“This hospital is a symbol of our region’s unity and preparedness against the virus.
“It has been wonderful to be part of opening today to celebrate the hard work of so many but I know that every citizen of the West Midlands will hope that it never has to be used in large numbers. It is in all of our hands to ensure that’s the case.”