Events industry applauds ExCeL's hospital transformation

The conference venue is expected to be ready for action as a huge coronavirus hospital by next week.

The news that ExCeL London is being temporarily converted into the NHS Nightingale Hospital has been met with widespread praise across the events industry.

NHS England confirmed yesterday that the new hospital will provide care for patients with coronavirus from next week. It will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, and capacity will continue to increase up to several thousand if needed.

Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London, said: “Our country is facing the largest national emergency for a generation and our thoughts and sympathies are with those who are personally affected by this situation. It is crucial that everyone plays their part in the national effort, working with the government to combat the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.

“We are proud to be able to accommodate the increasing demand for hospital beds and will work with the NHS to facilitate this request. The team at ExCeL London will ensure that we work with the government and relevant authorities to support their efforts in seeing the British people and the UK through this unprecedented crisis.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “In the face of this unprecedented global emergency, we are taking exceptional steps to increase NHS capacity so we can treat more patients, fight the virus and save lives.

“I applaud the NHS, engineers and the military for their continued work on setting up the new NHS Nightingale Hospital so it is ready to open its doors next week – a remarkable feat in these challenging circumstances.”

The NHS Nightingale Hospital will have nurses, doctors and other staff from across the health service, as well as a number of military medics will also tend to patients.

Industry reactions

The events industry was quick to praise ExCeL London for its efforts.

“GREAT to see the events industry community coming together in support of the nation’s need at this critical time,” said Michael Hirst OBE, chair of BVEP, on LinkedIn. “Event venues, businesses and event professionals stand ready to help wherever they can.”

Matt Riding, project manager at EventPro Solutions, said: “Amazing initiative, and good luck to all involved. Weird times demand alternative answers.”

Janthea Brigden, event childcare specialist at Nipperbout Event childcare, said: “ExCeL, aptly named as you really do go above and beyond. So many impressive initiatives in recent months and this is one I feel sure you will all ‘ExCel’ at once again! Good luck heroes! Stay safe!”

Visit Britain’s head of events Kerrin Macphie tweeted:

Circle Exhibitions and Events tweeted:

Following the news that ExCeL was to become NHS Nightingale Hospital, the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) wrote to the prime minister highlighting the importance of the events industry and its venues and asking the sector to be specifically referenced in support packages and measures. 

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