An MP has said he is “proud” that a Harrogate conference centre appears to have been chosen as a temporary hospital in the fight against coronavirus.
The Harrogate Convention Centre was a hive of activity on Tuesday amid reports it is going to join facilities around the UK in providing extra beds to treat patients.
The reports have not yet been confirmed by the NHS but Andrew Jones MP said the centre is a versatile space in a well-connected location that has previously been used for high-profile functions.
In a statement, the Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough said: “The fight against the coronavirus outbreak is a national endeavour and I am proud that Harrogate is playing its full part in that fight.
This is the biggest crisis to face our nation since the Second World War. The biggest thing we can all do to help is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save livesMP Andrew Jones
“The convention centre provides versatile space in a well-connected location that has proved itself over decades.
“It has been successfully used for high-profile, high-security sensitive functions and I believe these factors will have been important in the Government and NHS deciding we should host a Nightingale hospital.
“This is the biggest crisis to face our nation since the Second World War. The biggest thing we can all do to help is to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.
“In our area, it is great that we have gone further and are playing an important role in the wider national effort.”
NHS England said they could not confirm that the centre in Harrogate would be used as a field hospital but a spokeswoman said: “NHS England is actively preparing for a number of scenarios as the Covid-19 outbreak unfolds and is working with clinicians and teams of military planners to support the local health service around the country.”
Activity could be seen at the centre on Tuesday, where security guards wearing masks were stood at the gate and people were carrying boxes inside the grounds.
Workers wearing hard hats and overalls were present inside the building and forklift trucks were being used to move goods in the car park.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital at London’s ExCel centre was the first to be announced, with the Docklands facility being converted by soldiers and trade contractors to provide capacity for 4,000 beds.
Initially, 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen will be used to treat the seriously ill and their numbers are expected to swell in the capital ahead of the rest of the nation.
The National Exhibition Centre, in Birmingham, will add an initial 500 beds, with the potential to grow to 2,000 if necessary.
Manchester’s Central Convention Complex will add 500 more, with the capacity to expand to 1,000 and Cardiff’s Principality Stadium will provide up to 2,000 more.
It has been reported that there could be at least 10 temporary hospitals set up nationwide during the Covid-19 pandemic.