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NHS Nightingale – A Hospital Built in 9 Days

NHS Nightingale – A Hospital Built in 9 Days
08 April 2020

As it admits its first patients, ThisWeekinFM takes a look at how London’s ExCeL exhibition centre was transformed in just nine days into NHS Nightingale.

Normally home to trade shows, conferences and expos, the ExCeL exhibition centre is now the temporary NHS Nightingale hospital, admitting its first patients on Tuesday evening (7 April).

87,328 square metres of the centre have been repurposed to include 80 wards, containing 42 beds each. The life-saving facility was built with the help of NHS staff, contractors and up to 200 soldiers a day.

Let’s take a look at some of the teams from the facilities and workplace management sector, who were involved in the specialist healthcare conversion.

“It’s nothing short of extraordinary that this new hospital in London has been established from scratch in less than a fortnight. The NHS, working with the military, has done in a matter of days what usually takes years. Now we are gearing up to repeat that feat at another four sites across the country to add to the surge capacity in current NHS hospitals."

– Sir Simon Stevens

Chief Executive, NHS


Planning and design


Having undertaken a study proposing the use of exhibition centres for large scale temporary ICU facilities, architects and engineers from Building Design Partnership Ltd (BDP) were contacted to help deliver the transformation.

A team led by principal James Hepburn and architect director Paul Johnson was soon on-site working with clinicians, consultants, the British Army, contractors, including main contractor CFES, and ExCeL London's facilities management team. 

BDP says that the centre was an obvious choice for conversion due to its large flat floor hall spaces with flexible MEP infrastructure that can be easily adapted.

The firm took a modular, repeatable approach with minimal building intervention to ensure rapid delivery. The bed heads and service corridors were constructed from a component system that is usually used to construct exhibition stands. Simple reinforcement allowed for services to be fitted to the walls and the existing electrical infrastructure was modified to increase the resilience, UPS and temporary generators.

Principal James Hepburn commented on the project: "It was a very intense and exhausting first nine days, but it is a project that we are immensely proud to be involved in. BDP is part of a monumental team effort which is thriving in a proactive collaborative environment where everybody is pulling in the same direction to deliver this vital healthcare facility."

BDP has made The NHS Nightingale Instruction Manual available, outlining the different concepts that have been adopted for the emergency facility. It has been created so that information can be disseminated quickly across the UK and more globally. 


FM services


ISS, a global facilities services provider, will deliver cleaning, portering, waste management and other soft FM services at NHS Nightingale.

A specialist ISS Training Academy was been created onboard the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, adjacent to the exhibition centre, where all FM staff received the appropriate training before entering the new hospital.

Other FM services are said to be provided by Mitie and Eurest.

FSI, a global-leader in CAFM / IWMS solutions, is providing SaaS services to the hospital. The software has been configured to address the specific requirements of the hospital’s services, which include reactive tasks, portering, cleaning and catering.

This system will provide a “central hub”, to bring teams, data and processes together to help direct the hospital’s core FM functions.

Picture: As it admits its first patients, ThisWeekinFM takes a look at how London’s ExCeL exhibition centre was transformed in just nine days into NHS Nightingale. Image courtesy of BDP.

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 April 2020


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