Health clubs could be turned into emergency hospitals as part of the government’s latest attempt to prevent the NHS becoming overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, ITV News has learned.

The David Lloyd Leisure Centre chain is in talks with the government about converting “a handful” of its largest gyms into emergency medical facilities.

The clubs are currently unused following restrictions introduced by the Government to control the pandemic. Whitehall officials believe some of its largest leisure centres could offer the space required.

A spokesperson for the fitness group confirmed discussions were underway.

The Excel Centre in London is being converted into a hospital to help with the pandemic. Credit: PA

The gyms could be used to support NHS Nightingale Hospitals being built at the ExCel Centre in London, the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham and the Manchester Central Conference Centre.

ITV News has learned that work on the Manchester and Birmingham facilities will begin in the coming days.

There is a sense of urgency around the construction of the Birmingham facility due to the rapid rise of coronavirus cases in the West Midlands.

The NEC, near Birmingham, will be used to house 500 beds in three of its 18 exhibition halls at first, with the possibility of more space being made available to the NHS Nightingale facility if the number of patients rises.

NHS staff at the NEC will treat patients requiring critical, intensive and end of life care from around the Midlands, supported by security guards, cleaners and other facilities management staff who already work at the site.

Some of the hotels which are normally used by visitors to shows like Crufts could be turned into housing for staff from the NHS and the NEC, ITV News understands.

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