ExCel U-turns on charges to NHS for Nightingale hospital

Health Secretary Matt Hancock opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London last week Credit: PA

The ExCel centre has U-turned on charging the NHS to turn the exhibition space into a 4,000-bed field hospital.

The centre boss said the deal with the health service had included some contributions to costs, but “we have since decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves”.

Chief executive Jeremy Rees said in a statement: “The use of ExCeL London for NHS Nightingale London has always been provided to the NHS rent free.

“We joined the national effort to combat coronavirus immediately and worked in close partnership with the NHS to ensure this hospital could be up and running in a matter of days.

“The initial agreement with the NHS included a contribution to some fixed costs. We have since decided to cover the fixed costs ourselves.

“The ExCeL London facility is fully available to the NHS, and we are here to support all their needs and requirements during this crisis.

NHS Nightingale is now operational at the ExCel centre in London Credit: PA

The Sunday Times has reported the complex, owned by Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (Adnec), was charging the NHS between £2 million and £3 million per month to use the space.

Adnec boss Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri said “profit has always been the furthest thing from our minds”.

He added: “The venue was offered rent free from the initial conversation with the NHS, and Adnec Group will ensure the ExCeL London partnership comes at no cost to the NHS.

“It is our firm commitment that we will not charge a penny for the use of our facilities, and we will provide the NHS with the operational and logistical support it needs for NHS Nightingale London.”

Other new hospitals will open across the country in the coming weeks, with sites planned in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Harrogate, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: