Despite its temporary closure last week, the NHS is continuing to train staff for its 4,000 capacity make-shift hospital based at the ExCel centre in London, due to the possibility of there being a 2nd peak of the Coronavirus.

The hospital which opened its doors courtesy of Prince Charles on 3 April has only treated 54 patients in total.

4,000 Capacity Nightingale Hospital (Credit Matt Writtle)

The current lack of demand has also affected the other Nightingale hospitals around the country. Hospitals in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol and Harrogate have all been told to stand down until further notice. Staff will shortly return to their previous hospitals.

Although there may be no demand currently, the NHS has still been sending hundreds of volunteers from around the country to London to train with equipment in the O2 Arena.

NHS staff have been training at the entertainment venue since the beginning of April. Volunteers from around the country have been travelling to London to offer their help and expertise in case of a 2nd peak of the virus.

Joe Brooke (21) a physiotherapy student from Huddersfield University is one of the many volunteers who has recently travelled to London to complete the training for the hospital in case there may be a second wave of the virus.

”I thought it would be a good place to get a lot of experience. It would be quite memorable”

”There was an advert I saw on Twitter and as soon as I heard about the Nightingale hospital, and seeing the developments, I thought it would be a good place to get a lot of experience. It would be quite memorable”

Joe says that the training was tough and that the NHS is trying to make sure all roles are covered in case of further emergency. ”It was very multi-disciplinary, so some of the stuff was applicable to physiotherapy but what Nightingale hospital is trying to do is train people so they can cover all the specialities that are needed in the hospital.”

Joe, a final year student at Huddersfield University spoke on how he has transitioned from being a student to potentially being on the front line against the epidemic. ”It’s daunting because your first job in any sector is daunting, and if my first job is to be working at the Nightingale it would be especially daunting.”

Joe Brooke speaking about his training at the O2 Arena for Nightingale hospital

The O2 arena has been reserved for NHS training until 29 June for free of charge. It is expected for training to be ramped down with the current lack of demand.

Nightingale Hospital facts

  • 5 separate facilities in Bristol, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Harrogate
  • First one in London opened on 3 April by Prince Charles
  • As of 12 May the Nightingale facility in London has treated 54 patients