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Army helps finish building massive temporary hospital in London

by Josefina Sotelo (2020-04-13)


Soldiers helping to build the Nightingale hospital in London have compared the coronavirus crisis to the Battle of the Somme as the 4,000-bed NHS unit at the ExCeL centre is set to accept its first patients today.

Colonel Ashleigh Boreham, who has carried out two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan, said it was the biggest mission of his career.

As commanding officer of 256 City of London Field Hospital, he is in charge of military personnel working on the NHS facility.

Built in around ten days, it will have 500 beds for coronavirus patients when it opens this week. The number of beds will eventually increase to 4,000. 

Similar hospitals are being installed in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow to ease pressure on existing sites.

Colonel Boreham, who has helped create field hospitals around the world, said: 'We are building a hospital for people in our nation. You are saving people's lives and they could be the lives of your families. It's the biggest job I've ever done.

'My grandfather was at the Somme, this is no different. I'm just at a different battle. I'm from London, I have friends and family in London. Many of the people working here, many of the soldiers working here, are from London.

'We are doing this to save the lives of Londoners. These are our comrades, there's no difference. It doesn't matter if they are civilian or military.'






Built in around ten days, the Nightingale hospital in London will have 4,000 beds for coronavirus patients when it opens this week







Members of the Queen's Gurkha Engineer Regiment, 36 Engineer Regiment as they help build Nightingale Hospital




Sky News was given access to the new NHS Nightingale hospital in London's ExCeL Centre.

In just two weeks the giant conference centre has been turned into a specialist #COVID19 field hospital

Read more on the giant #coronavirus hospital: website pic.twitter.com/yYZrKWnmjQ

— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 1, 2020






Medical equipment is labelled and prepared for use by NHS staff at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital (pictured on Tuesday)







Up to 200 soldiers a day have been helping in the construction of the Docklands hospital. They are carrying out medical planning, logistics, engineering and tasks such as building beds, laying floors, and carrying out electrics and plumbing (pictured on Tuesday)

















Colonel Ashleigh Boreham (left), who has carried out two tours of Iraq and one of Afghanistan, said transforming the conference centre into a hospital was the biggest mission of his career (right, medical equipment is labelled and prepared for use by NHS staff at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital)







Work continues at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital (pictured on Tuesday). The NHS Nightingale hospital, comprising of two wards, each of 2,000 people, has been created to help tackle coronavirus







The news comes as a record-breaking 381 coronavirus deaths and 3,009 cases were declared in the UK yesterday, on what was Britain's darkest day so far in the ever-worsening crisis















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He said the NHS, which is leading the project, and the military had 'one single purpose, one single aim to save lives'. Colonel Boreham, who joined the Army in 1992, is due to retire in a few weeks and take up a job at an NHS clinical commissioning group.

The 54-year-old father of two said his wife was a front-line NHS worker and his daughter was volunteering to distribute food during the crisis.

His mother, 88, is in ‘lockdown' at home in London, as is his son, he said.






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Speaking about his mother, he said: ‘She has been proud of me since the moment I joined the army.' He said having family close by meant that the mission against the virus was ‘very personal'.

He said: ‘It is very personal, it cannot be anything else. It focuses the mind, and that is why you have everyone pulling together.'

During a tour in Afghanistan in 2013-14, he was commander med which meant he was responsible for all the military medical services in the war-zone.

Helping to oversee the building of NHS Nightingale is his last job before he retires.

‘At every stage the NHS are leading this, we are literally just doing that little bit of assisting and planning. They are amazing', he said. 






The ExCeL London Centre is being refitted to create thousands of new beds for COVID-19 sufferers, complete Texas. With Exceptional Service And 24/7 Response Time; Www.Facebook.Com, oxygen, ventilators and other key equipment in the battle against the deadly virus (pictured on Tuesday)







Natalie Forrest, Chief Operating Officer of the Nightingale Hospital at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital - the NHS Nightingale hospital, comprising of two wards, each of 2,000 people, to help tackle coronavirus







Before the scale of the crisis became clear, the UK was believed to have had one of the lowest proportions of intensive care units in Europe, but NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens says 33,000 beds are now available for COVID-19 patients (pictured, the temporary hospital in east London on Tuesday)







Ventilators are stored and ready to be used by Coronavirus patients at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital







Medical equipment is labelled and prepared for use by NHS staff at the ExCel centre in London which is being made into a temporary hospital















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