NHS Nightingale Hospital London

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NHS Nightingale Hospital London
Barts Health NHS Trust
NHS Nightingale Hospital London main entrance (2) (cropped).jpg
The main entrance of the hospital during its refit on 30 March 2020
LocationCustom House, London, England
Coordinates51°30′29″N 00°01′49″E / 51.50806°N 0.03028°E / 51.50806; 0.03028Coordinates: 51°30′29″N 00°01′49″E / 51.50806°N 0.03028°E / 51.50806; 0.03028
Care systemNHS England
TypeCOVID-19 critical care
Beds500 (potential for 4,000)
Opened3 April 2020
Websitewww.nightingale-london.nhs.uk Edit this at Wikidata
ListsHospitals 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (16 March 2020). "Army likely to embed medics in NHS hospitals to help fight coronavirus". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b Schraer, Rachel (24 March 2020). "ExCeL Centre to be used as coronavirus hospital". BBC News.
  3. ^ "Coronavirus: Nightingale Hospital opens at London's ExCel centre". BBC News. 3 April 2020.
  4. ^ Campbell, Denis; Dodd, Vikram (23 March 2020). "NHS plans to turn ExCeL centre into coronavirus hospital". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "London's ExCel Centre being converted into makeshift hospital to deal with coronavirus patients". ITV News. 24 March 2020.
  6. ^ Sparrow, Andrew; Campbell, Lucy; Smithers, Rebecca; Sabbagh, Dan (24 March 2020). "UK coronavirus live: 12,000 former NHS workers to return and emergency hospital to open as death toll rises". The Guardian.
  7. ^ "NHS Nightingale: BDP on the first nine days converting the ExCeL centre". Architects' Journal. 1 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  8. ^ Davies, Caroline (3 April 2020). "Prince Charles to open NHS Nightingale to treat Covid-19 patients". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Coronavirus: Boris Johnson spends second night in intensive care". BBC News. 7 April 2020. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Holby gives ventilators to Nightingale hospital". BBC News. 11 April 2020. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  11. ^ a b "About us". NHS Nightingale London Hospital. Retrieved 15 April 2020.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Responsibility for the NHS Nightingale Hospital London". Barts Health NHS Trust. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Professor Charles Knight, Chief Executive (seconded to NHS Nightingale Hospital London)". Barts Health NHS Trust. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
  14. ^ Sengupta, Kim (24 March 2020). "Emergency hospital to be set up in London's ExCel Centre for coronavirus patients". The Independent.
  15. ^ Marray, Jessica (25 March 2020). "NHS Nightingale: video shows scale of London coronavirus hospital". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Queen Elizabeth University Hospital". Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  17. ^ "Planning Application 20/00660/FUL, Transport Statement" (PDF). Newham Council. Retrieved 9 April 2020.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "More than 16,000 staff needed to run Nightingale Hospital at full capacity". ITV News. 1 April 2020.
  19. ^ Lawrence Dunhill; Dave West; Annabelle Collins (14 April 2020), "Nightingale largely empty as ICUs handle surge", Health Service Journal, retrieved 15 April 2020
  20. ^ John Burn-Murdoch, Financial Times [@jburnmurdoch] (16 April 2020). "Charts: London's hospitals now have fewer covid patients with each day" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ a b Marsh, Sarah; Campbell, Denis (21 April 2020). "Nurse shortage causes Nightingale hospital to turn away patients". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  22. ^ Bedigan, Mike. "Coronavirus: Health bosses deny Nightingale Hospital nursing shortage reports". Newham Recorder. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  23. ^ Weeks, Romilly (24 April 2020). "Why hasn't the NHS Nightingale hospital in London taken off?". ITV News. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  24. ^ "London NHS Nightingale hospital placed on standby". 4 May 2020. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  25. ^ London NHS Nightingale hospital will shut next week 4 May 2020 www.theguardian.com, accessed 25 October 2020
  26. ^ Sharman, Laura (23 December 2020). "Nightingale Hospitals pictured lying empty as UK hit by mutant Covid strain". mirror.
  27. ^ "NHS Nightingale: How reopened London hospital will be used to manage patients". The Independent. 12 January 2021. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  28. ^ Wise, Jacqui (5 January 2021). "Covid-19: London's Nightingale Hospital will reopen for non-covid cases". BMJ. 372: n15. doi:10.1136/bmj.n15. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 33402358.
  29. ^ "ExCeL to open as mass vaccination hub next week". Newham Recorder. 6 January 2020. Retrieved 7 January 2021.

External links[edit]