'Impressive and daunting in equal measures': What's it like inside the huge 4,000 bed coronavirus Nightingale Hospital?

It doesn't look like a hospital. It looks like a massive international conference centre.

That's because the ExCel Centre in east London is a massive international conference centre and until last week it still was.

On Tuesday, I spent the morning at the new Nightingale Hospital, thrown up in under two weeks to help cater for the thousands of coronavirus patients expected to need intensive care.

The first thing that struck me was the sheer size of the place.

It is vast.

Having walked 200 metres through the atrium a second thing suddenly struck me; the "wards".

To the left, I peered through the opening of a mammoth hall, it was full of neat rows of empty cubicles.

Rows and rows and rows.

The sight was chilling and certainly like nothing I have ever seen before.

Ministry of Defence staff have transformed the Excel into a hospital. Credit: Ministry of Defence

We then came to another hall.

This time the cubicles had beds and various screens and machines.

With nearly 50 beds on each "corridor" this hall can take more than 1,000 patients.

The whole hospital has the capacity to take 4,000, making it the biggest of its kind in the world.

The new hospital has almost 50 beds on each corridor. Credit: PA

Everything looked new and shiny.

It was impressive and daunting in equal measure.

The very idea that every single bed could be occupied by seriously ill patients next month was sobering.

The medical director of the hospital, Dr Alan McGlennan, was matter of fact.

He has been tasked with managing the clinical staff and overseeing everything that goes on there.

Ministry of Defence staff working on building the new Nightingale hospital in London. Credit: Ministry of Defence

He is convinced that the size of the hospital is not an issue, they will draft staff in from across London and nurses will be expected to look after many more patients than usual (up to six).

I asked him whether he was sure the hospital had the equipment needed to keep patients alive, the only reassurance he could offer was they have enough for 500 patients initially and "line of sight of the supply chain" so they can plan for more.

The NHS knows they need more ventilators and the government has ordered more, but until they role off the production line and get delivered here, that's about as much reassurance they can give.

NHS Chief Exec Simon Stevens visited the ExCel centre in London, which is being made into the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital. Credit: PA

I also spoke to Eamonn Sullivan, the head nurse at the Nightingale.

He wouldn't be drawn on the safety of looking after six patients, but pointed out the wards were "Nightingale wards" and offered good visibility to all patients - just one of the legacies Florence Nightingale left behind.

He also told me nurses were prepared to "flex"; in other words, work differently and outside their usual clinical environment but to say they weren't daunted by the task ahead would be a lie, he said.

Despite his best efforts, in truth, he looked and sounded apprehensive.

There is no doubt the achievements made at the ExCel Centre are impressive, in fact more than impressive.

But questions still remain about whether the country has the workforce to staff it, the equipment patients will need and indeed the collective resilience to keep it going.

I have no doubt the resilience is there in bundles but the staff and equipment?

Well, for that answer we can only wait... and see.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know