Coronavirus: Prince Charles officially opens Nightingale Hospital
- Credit: PA
Prince Charles has officially opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital, which has been set up at the ExCeL to treat coronavirus patients.
The royal appeared via video link from his Scottish home of Brikhall this morning (Friday, April 3) and told those gathered at the entrance of the new temporary hospital: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense, from its speed of construction - in just nine days as we’ve heard - to its size and the skills of those who have created it.
“An example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible could be made possible and how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”
He added: “The creation of this hospital is above all the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.
“To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital, starting with 500 beds with a potential of 4,000, is quite frankly incredible.”
The prince and health secretary Matt Hancock - who was present at the launch - both recently ended self-isolation after contracting the virus and Charles commented on the fact they had recovered.
He said: “Now I was one of the lucky ones to have Covid-19 relatively mildly and if I may say so I’m so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered, but for some it will be a much harder journey.”
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Charles said the new hospital “offers us an intensely practical message of hope for those who will need it most at this time of national suffering”.
“Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time, and for as few people as possible,” he added.
He added: “I need hardly say that the name of this hospital could not have been more aptly chosen. Florence Nightingale, the Lady with the Lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour. In this dark time, this place will be a shining light.
“It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings, with countless individuals, throughout the United Kingdom.”
Mr Hancock praised all those involved in the setting up of the hospital during a speech at the opening ceremony, with a plaque also unveiled in tribute to those who helped build it.
He said the “extraordinary project”, the core of which was completed in just nine days, was a “testament to the work and the brilliance of the many people involved”.
He also praised the NHS and the way its staff are dealing with the virus crisis.
The health secretary said: “In these troubled times with this invisible killer stalking the whole world, the fact that in this country we have the NHS is even more valuable than before.”