Two major conference centres are to be turned into makeshift hospitals as the Government ramps up its efforts to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus.
The National Exhibition Centre in Solihull and Manchester Central Convention Complex are the latest venues to be used as so-called ‘Nightingale hospitals’.
They follow ExCel London where two wards, each with 2,000 beds in them, are due to open next week.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens confirmed that new NHS Nightingale hospitals would be built in Solihull and Manchester following days of rumours and reports about their possible usage.
Michael Gove said in the Government’s daily press conference: “Today I can announce that the Prime Minister has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to boost testing capacity for frontline workers.
“This will be antigen testing – testing whether people currently have the disease – so that our health and social care workers can have security in the knowledge that they are safe to return to work if their test is negative.
“These tests will be trialled for people on the frontline starting immediately, with hundreds to take place by the end of the weekend – dramatically scaling up next week.”
Sir Simon thanked the public for the Clap For Carers effort and said it would have meant an “enormous amount” to NHS staff.
He said there are now 33,000 hospital beds available to treat coronavirus patients in England.
And he added that as of yesterday, there were just under 3,000 empty and available hospital beds in London. More beds will be available next week when the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in East London opens.
Birmingham Live reported today that a temporary mortuary is being prepared at Birmingham Airport as part of the UK’s coronavirus response.