In pictures: New coronavirus hospital NHS Nightingale opens in Birmingham NEC

A new temporary hospital designed to help the NHS cope with coronavirus which has opened in Birmingham, has been praised by Prince William as a "wonderful example" of the UK "pulling together".

The NHS Nightingale Birmingham, which is one seven temporary Covid-19 field hospitals being set up around the country, was set up inside the huge National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in just nine days.

The facility, which contains a 2,000,000 square foot hall floor and a 15,683 seat theatre, is believed to have 500 beds to treat coronavirus patients, with the capacity to expand to 2,000.

The Duke of Cambridge, opening the hospital via video link, said the several Nightingale sites around the UK will "rightly go down as landmarks in the history of the NHS".

The new hospital has capacity for up to 2,000 beds. Credit: PA

He said the hospital in Birmingham is "yet another example of how people across the country have risen to this unprecedented challenge".

He added: "Hospitals are about the people and not the bricks, NHS staff, armed forces, local government and the private sector have collectively stepped up have collectively stepped up to turn this exhibition centre into a hospital.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock was also at the digital opening. Credit: PA

"You all deserve our huge thanks and you should all be hugely proud of what you've achieved in such a short space of time."

It has yet to take its first patients since becoming fully operational on April 10, with clinicians hoping it will never reach anything like capacity.

More than 400 civilian contractors, together with military personnel and about 500 clinical staff, have been involved in the setting-up.

Other sites to have a Nightingale Hospital include London's Excel Centre, which is already open, with up to 4,000 beds available as extra capacity for the NHS.

There are hundreds of patient beds in the hospital. Credit: PA

Another in Manchester's Central Convention Complex is due to open officially tomorrow and has already began to take patients.

Work is underway on further hospitals, planned for Bristol, Exeter and Sunderland, while one in Harrogate will open next week.

The huge NEC has been converted into another NHS Nightingale. Credit: PA

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, speaking over video-link, said the hospital would help create vital extra NHS capacity.

"I'm glad to say that the huge huge efforts of the people of the West Midlands and across the country appear to be now working," he added.

Others at the Birmingham hospital's digital opening were Chair of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust Jacqui Smith, the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, and NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens.

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