The Board of Barts Health NHS Trust has agreed to a request from NHS London that we should host the new hospital being built for Covid-19 patients at the ExCeL exhibition centre in Newham.
This means the Trust will take on formal legal responsibility for the operation and governance of the NHS Nightingale Hospital London, working closely with NHS London and the project team that is setting it up with help from NHS colleagues across the capital.
The facility is on schedule to open this week to care exclusively for Covid-19 patients from across the capital and could have a capacity of several thousand beds by the anticipated peak of the coronavirus pandemic next month.
NHS England/Improvement does not have the legal powers to manage a hospital directly, and there is insufficient time to create a new independent legal entity, so the new facility needs to sit within an existing NHS provider.
At Barts Health we have an established and resilient group operating model which could embrace a sixth hospital without detriment to the services the Trust currently offers. In addition, ExCel is situated within our catchment area in East London.
The Trust has a Peak operating plan summary for the Covid-19 pandemic[pdf] 4MB that summarises the plans we have been making. These will need to adapt and change, but its hoped it will provide direction in the weeks ahead.
Alwen Williams, our Group Chief Executive, will be the Accountable Officer for the hospital’s services, and Prof Charles Knight, chief executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital, has been seconded to lead the management team, which is being assembled from a number of NHS bodies in the capital, including us.
Alwen said: “I am hugely grateful to Charles for taking on this role, and want to thank all our staff who are responding magnificently to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.”
Ian Peters, chair of Barts Health, said: “we are facing a profound crisis requiring bold and unproven solutions. It is an honour to be asked to embrace the NHS Nightingale at a time of national emergency. We willingly accept the challenge and will finalise arrangements in the next few days.”
Justin Creigh, the current deputy chief executive at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, will become interim chief executive during this period, with director of operations Karen Bates moving to deputy chief executive.