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. 

For more features and breaking news sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in

Why Prague should top your post-pandemic Czech-list

This fairytale-like capital offers the perfect blend of city style, sophisticated hotels and a wealth of green spaces to enjoy

RSVP podcast Ep2: Afterparties, swarms of bats and a masked vigilante

RSVP podcast Ep2: Afterparties, swarms of bats and a masked vigilante

This week's special guest is Elena Clowes, co-founder of Event First Steps.

New commercial director for Production Bureau

New commercial director for Production Bureau

Norfolk-based agency adds to its leadership team in preparation for a business rebuild after COVID-19.

Working hours have increased by 22% for those still at work

Working hours have increased by 22% for those still at work

Majority of event professionals say their employer has 'not taken an active role' in improving their wellbeing, finds Stress Matters survey.

LIVE UPDATES: IBTM Americas goes digital

LIVE UPDATES: IBTM Americas goes digital

Find out which countries are on partial or national lockdown, what travel restrictions are in place and what size gatherings are allowed.

Will IMEX America go ahead in September?

Will IMEX America go ahead in September?

The annual event industry trade show takes place in Las Vegas, which is reopening its casinos today.

#BlackLivesMatter: The event industry needs to wake up

#BlackLivesMatter: The event industry needs to wake up

C&IT’s editor calls for the industry to respond to the issues raised by George Floyd’s death.

Bright lights, big city: A three-day immersive event in Shanghai

Bright lights, big city: A three-day immersive event in Shanghai

BCD Meetings & Events organised a conference for the APAC leadership team of a lighting manufacturer.

How to prevent video-conference fatigue

How to prevent video-conference fatigue

All Zoomed-out and WebEx-hausted? Here's some advice from the president of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus.

'Being bold involves risk and that’s OK'

'Being bold involves risk and that’s OK'

Creative director Robert Dunsmore says drive-in cinemas are a great example of repurposing old ideas to meet new challenges.